By Richard Adorsu-
NEW AFRICA BUSINESS NEWS (NABN) Accra GHANA- The African Development Bank has approved a $1.5 billion facility to help African countries avert a looming food crisis over the next two years.
With the disruption of food supplies arising from the Russia-Ukraine war, Africa now faces a shortage of at least 30 million metric tons of food, especially wheat, maize, and soybeans imported from both countries.
The ‘African Emergency Food Production Facility’ is expected to benefit 20 million smallholder African farmers who will receive certified seed and technology to rapidly produce 38 million tons of food, over the next four farming seasons, said the bank’s officials.
In a breakdown, the facility will lead to the production of 11 million tons of wheat, 18 million tons of maize, 6 million tons of rice, and 2.5 million tons of soybeans, according to the statement.
AfDB Group President, Akinwumi Adesina said: “Food aid cannot feed Africa. Africa does not need bowls in hand. Africa needs seeds in the ground, and mechanical harvesters to harvest bountiful food produced locally. Africa will feed itself with pride for there is no dignity in begging for food.”
He noted that access to fertilizers should not face the same constraints as the case was for Covid19 vaccines and warned that food shortages in Africa could lead to high instability, including riots or toppling of governments.
Beth Dunford, AfDB’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, said the facility builds on lessons learned from the bank’s Feed Africa Response to Covid-19 program.
“That program has provided a strategic roadmap to support Africa’s agriculture sector and safeguard food security against the pandemic’s impact.”
The Facility will also create a platform to advocate for critical policy reforms to solve the structural issues that impede farmers from receiving modern inputs. This includes strengthening national institutions overseeing input markets.
It will be followed by a five-year ramp-up phase to build on previous gains and strengthen self sufficiency in wheat, maize, and other staple crops, as well as expand access to agricultural fertilizers by delivering seeds and inputs to 40 million farmers.
The Bank made the commitment ahead of the AfDB Group annual general meeting slated from May 23 to 27 in Accra, Ghana.