SOUTHERN AFRICA – The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved loans to Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe to scale up food production.

The loans have been awarded under AfDB’s US$1.5 billion African Emergency Food Production Facility designed to help African countries avert a looming food crisis caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine and persisting impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under the loan facility, Zambia, a key supplier to countries in the southern Africa region has been granted a US$14.4 million loan to promote proven climate-smart agricultural practices and facilitate the implementation of agriculture and trade policy reforms.

Farmers are to receive 36,000 metric tons of fertilizer and 3,000 metric tons of improved seeds, as part of the expected outcomes. In addition, farm gate fertilizer prices will be reduced by 50%.

Thirdly, a partial credit guarantee scheme will result in over 100,000 metric tons of fertilizer on the local market and stabilize prices.

Over 90,000 hectares of maize and soya will be planted, with an incremental annual output of 265,000 metric tons valued at $43.72 million. This will reduce potential food imports by 200,000 metric tons. The average farm income will rise from US$350 to US$500 per year.

The African Development Bank Group, has approved a US$20.2 million grant to streamline the existing seed and fertilizer distribution systems in Malawi.

It will provide half a million farm households with 2,500 tons of climate-smart certified cereal and legume seeds, and 70,000 tons of fertilizer. A guarantee scheme managed by the African Fertilizer Financing Mechanism will reach 300,000 farmers.

In partnership with the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation program, 1,000 extension staff will receive training in climate-smart agriculture and farm data collection methodologies using new technology. To assist with this, 300 motorbikes will be procured.

Three hundred electronic tablets will be distributed to officers who collect data from farmers’ clubs. Around 700,000 new beneficiaries will be registered on the database of the government’s Affordable Inputs Program, which will implement the project.

In Zimbabwe the African Development Fund has also approved a grant of around US$25.65 million to help support farmers to raise food production to mitigate the impact of inadequate rainfall during the last growing season and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, on food prices in the short term and build longer-term food security.

The main objective of the project is to increase cereal and oil seed production, boost fertilizer distribution and provide policy support over the next two years. Certified seeds and fertilizer will be distributed to 180,000 beneficiaries.

Maize production is expected to increase from 2 to 4 metric tons per hectare. High-yielding varieties of oil seeds (soybean and sunflower) are expected to produce an additional 40,000 hectares, targeting total output of 400,000 metric tons.

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