The African Development Bank (AfDB) has released US$1.5 billion to address a looming food crisis on the continent.
The funds will be channeled to some 20 million farmers across the continent in the form of purchases of certified seeds, fertilizers and better farming technologies. The goal is to allow farmers to produce at least 38 million tons of food this season, according to a decision by the bank’s board of governors on Friday.
The decision has been made since As a net importer of food, the continent is facing soaring product prices after key suppliers – Ukraine and Russia – went to war earlier this year, disrupting production and supply to the world market.
According to the bank, Africa’s demand for food means the continent faces shortages of up to 30 million tonnes this year, with wheat, corn and soybeans being the most urgently needed.
Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the president of the African Development Bank Group, said the lender is also fighting against a perennial anomaly: the use of food aid whenever there is a crisis on the continent.
“Food aid cannot feed Africa. Africa doesn’t need bowls in hand. Africa needs seeds in the ground and mechanical harvesters to harvest plentiful, locally produced food.
“Africa will feed with pride, for there is no dignity in begging for food .” he said Friday night after board approval.
The program will involve working with government agencies and the private sector to give individual farmers access to seeds during this year’s Diversity and other inputs to facilitate growing seasons across the continent.
Known as an emergency food production facility, smallholder farmers grouped together in state registries will benefit from common seed and fertilizer collection points . The bank estimates that such a program could increase Africa’s food production by $12 billion in agricultural investment.
Although the bank approved the financing, the facility is the result of Consultations with governments and other organizations, including those with fertilizer manufacturers and the African Union’s agriculture and finance ministers, in early May.
One of the problems the bank admits has local farms Businesses are harmed by corruption, which, in addition to trade barriers for fertilizer and seeds, keeps food expensive. The sourcing and distribution of inputs should also be transparent, added the bank’s President.
“The question will be how to target the subsidies using digital technologies and avoid corruption and capture by elites,” said Dr. Adesina.
“There are proven models, such as the electronic wallet system used in Nigeria, which has a reach of 15 million. ”
Dr. Adesina, a former agriculture minister in Nigeria, says he has set up a secure distribution channel for farmers to receive seeds and fertilizers, and he believes the same system can be used elsewhere in Africa to protect farmers from corrupt traders. The AfDB believes that the private sector should play a leading role, but governments should cut red tape.
In early May, AU member states agreed to remove hurdles for eliminate local production of inputs and improve agricultural technology. It was in response to soaring food prices, which have risen by at least 45 percent since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Fertilizer prices have risen three times, with Africa facing shortages of about 2 million tonnes this year alone, the bank’s figures show. If the gap is not closed, African farmers could produce a fifth less than last year’s yield, equivalent to an agricultural value of US$11 billion.
The facility targets to prevent this, targeted 11 million tons of wheat, 18 million tons of corn, 6 million tons of rice and 2.5 million tons of soybeans; by providing contributions, technological and advisory services, and post-harvest storage and marketing.
This week, the Bank will hold its annual meetings in Accra, Ghana, where the food crisis and Recovery from Covid-19 expected.