WEST AFRICA – The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved loans to Gambia, Côte d’Ivoire, and Sierra Leone to scale up food production.

The African Development Bank Group, has approved a grant of US$2 million to boost food production in Sierra Leone, with a focus on the production, harvesting and marketing of rice.

The Ministry of Agriculture will provide smart subsidies to 67,000 smallholder farmers to reduce the cost of certified rice seeds and fertilizers. The project will be rolled out through the established e-wallet input distribution system over two cropping seasons, beginning in 2022.

The program will also benefit rice value chain actors and support the government of Sierra Leone to improve the regulatory environment in order to achieve climate-resilient agricultural development.

By the end of March 2023, the government expects to distribute 1,000 metric tons of subsidized fertilizers and 1,675 metric tons of subsidized seeds. An additional 5,862 metric tons of rice is expected.

The AfDB has also approved a grant of US$3.5 million as additional financing for a rice value chain transformation project in Gambia.

The project targets the production, processing, and marketing of rice in the Gambia, as well as reducing imports, with the goal of improving farm incomes, rural livelihoods, food and nutrition security in the country.

The additional financing will focus on providing subsidized inputs as well as policy reforms destined to scale up food production. This includes providing climate-resilient inputs at subsidized rates to smallholder farmers and enhancing the existing farmers’ registration database for smart delivery of subsidies and targeted extension services.

Côte d’Ivoire has also been granted a loan of €151.18 million to implement its Emergency Food Production Plan. The plan is also supported by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to the tune of €68.14 million. This funding will enable Côte d’Ivoire to increase its national production of rice, maize and cassava, to cope with soaring food prices.

Certified climate-resilient hybrid seed varieties will be obtained from local seed producers and distributed to the country’s farmers. The programme will also offer support for supervisory opportunities, access to information and the establishment of an agro-climatic early warning system in flood-prone areas.

The programme will also strengthen access to financing mechanisms to improve the accessibility of agricultural inputs and good farming practices through its dissemination services. In 2023, thanks to this project, Côte d’Ivoire should produce up to 546,987 additional tonnes of maize, 796,323 more tonnes of rice and 1 million more tonnes of cassava. 

These loans are part of a US$1.5 billion African Emergency Food Production Facility loan facility approved by the Afdb to provide quality wheat, rice, maize and soya seeds, fertilisers and other support services to around 20 million producers across Africa. The aim is to produce 38 million additional tonnes of food, valued at US$12 billion, over the next two years.

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