AFRICA – The African Development Bank (AfDB), through its flagship programme – Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), has announced plans to boost Africa’s food basket by producing 100 million tonnes of food every year through the deployment and the use of smart agricultural technologies.
The move, according to the multilateral agency, is expected to cut food import by half, noting that Africa is a net food importer.
According to a report by UNCTAD, from 2016 to 2018, Africa imported about 85% of its food from outside the continent, leading to an annual food import bill of US$35 billion, which is forecast to reach US$110 billion by 2025.
Speaking at AfDB’s maiden edition of TAAT investors forum, the Director, Agriculture and Agro-Industry, AfDB, Mr. Martin Fregene, observed that TAAT is the focus of the bank’s number two priority which is Feed Africa.
The ambitious target will be attained by reaching 40 million farmers with modern and climate resilient technologies to double their yields.
“We estimate that that additional hundred million tons of food produced every year could reduce hunger by 80 percent. Today, Africa has about 280 million people.
“If you just take a rule of thumb that an average African eats a tonne of food every year, so hundred million additional tonnes of food will reduce hunger by 80 per cent,” he said.
He, however, noted that the private sector would become a very important player in the initiative especially in many African countries where there are fragile governments.
“We really need the private sector to create an efficient, profitable environment so that we can attract more finance and the private sector, like you all know, helps to develop value chains.
According to AfDB, its Feed Africa Strategy through the TAAT programme has so far provided 11 million farmers across 29 African countries with proven agricultural technologies for food security.
The AfDB maintained that food production has expanded by 12 million metric tonnes under the initiative while saving US$814 million worth of food imports.
Decrying the 246 million people in Africa who go to bed daily without food and the continent’s 59 million stunted children, AfDB is also pushing to make its Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zone (SPAZ) project a reality.
The zones will enable agricultural producers, processors, aggregators, and distributors to operate in the same vicinity to reduce transaction costs and share business development services for increased productivity and competitiveness.
Coupled with bringing adequate infrastructure (energy, water, roads, ICT, etc.) to rural areas of high agricultural potential, SAPZs will attract investments from private agro-industrialists/entrepreneurs to contribute to the economic and social development of rural areas.
The zones are set to be established in 18 African countries beginning with Nigeria and Mozambique.