AFRICA – The African Development Bank Group’s Board of Directors have approved a US$1.5 billion facility to help African countries avert a looming food crisis caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine and persisting impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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 price of wheat has soared in the region by over 45% since the war in Ukraine began. Fertilizer prices have gone up by 300%, and the continent faces a fertilizer shortage of 2 million metric tons.
Many African countries have already seen price hikes in bread and other food items. If this deficit is not made up, food production in Africa will decline by at least 20% and the continent could lose over US$11 billion in food production value.
To this end, the developmental bank is set to roll out the US$1.5 billion African Emergency Food Production Facility which has benefited from stakeholder consultations, including those with fertilizer producers and separately with African Union agriculture and finance ministers.
In support of the initiative, the ministers have agreed to implement reforms to address the systemic hurdles that prevent modern input markets from performing effectively.
African Emergency Food Production Facility boosts supply of inputs
Though unprecedented, the initiative is timely as African farmers urgently need high-quality seeds and inputs before the planting season begins in May to immediately boost food supplies.
Offering comprehensive support to the smallholder farmers in filling the food shortfall, the facility will provide 20 million African smallholder farmers with certified seeds.
It will also increase access to agricultural fertilizers and enable them to rapidly produce 38 million tons of food. This is a US$12 billion increase in food production in just two years.
Giving a breakdown, the strategy is expected to result in 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.
It is important to note that AfDB will provide fertilizer to smallholder farmers across Africa over the next four farming seasons, using its convening influence with major fertilizer manufacturers, loan guarantees, and other financial instruments.
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.
“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…,” said African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina.
Farmers to benefit from extension services, technical expertise
Other than driving supply of inputs, the initiative is set to offer extension services and support market growth and post-harvest management.
It has a structure for working with multilateral development partners. This will ensure rapid alignment and implementation, enhanced reach, and effective impact.
In addition, it will increase technical preparedness and responsiveness. In addition, it includes short, medium, and long-term measures to address both the urgent food crisis and the long-term sustainability and resilience of Africa’s food systems.
Dr. Beth Dunford, the African Development Bank’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, said, “The Africa Emergency Food Production Facility builds on lessons learned from the African Development 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 Global Alliance for Food Security spearheaded by the Government of Germany provides an excellent forum for the African Emergency Food Program Facility, which is part of a coordinated and collective effort by development partners and countries to accelerate food production in the short term while remaining focused on medium- and longer-term actions to build resilience.
For the Food and Agriculture Resilience Mission (FARM) supported by the Government of France, the African Development Bank (AfDB) is partnering with IFAD and has agreed to be part of the coordination team and steering committee of FARM.
The African Emergency Food Program Facility lays out the foundation and complements FARM activities which aims to strengthen local production systems in Africa and reduce food loss to support development of sustainable and resilient food systems.
Meanwhile, a five-year ramp-up phase will follow the two-year African Emergency Food Production Facility.
This will build on previous gains and strengthen self-sufficiency in wheat, maize, and other staple crops, as well as expand access to agricultural fertilizers.
The five-year phase will deliver seeds and inputs to 40 million farmers under the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation program.