African Development Bank approves $1.5 billion emergency facility to avert continent’s wheat crisis

Putin’s war brings grim predictions of rising hunger and soaring food prices around the world. In poorer countries like Africa, the cost of staples like wheat has skyrocketed, worsening an already dire situation caused by prolonged drought. The Russian-Ukrainian conflict means that Africa now faces a shortage of at least 30 million metric tons of wheat and maize. Between 2018 and 2020, Africa imported almost 44% of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine.

The AfDB’s African Emergency Food Production Facility is an unprecedented global initiative to close the food gap and is providing 20 million African smallholder farmers with the certified seeds and technology needed to accelerate production by 38 million tonnes of food.

It will also support market growth and post-harvest management.

This is a $12 billion increase in food production in just two years.

“Food aid cannot feed Africa. Africa doesn’t need handmade bowls. Africa needs seeds in the ground and mechanical harvesters to harvest abundant locally produced food. Africa will feed itself with pride because there is no dignity in begging for food,”said the President of the African Development Bank Group, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina.

Crushing price increases

The price of wheat has risen in Africa by more than 45% since the start of the war in Ukraine. Fertilizer prices have also soared by 300% and the continent faces a fertilizer shortage of 2 million metric tons. Many African countries have already experienced increases in bread prices.

If this gap is not closed, food production in Africa will decline by at least 20% and the continent could lose over $11 billion in food production value.

The African Development Bank’s $1.5 billion strategy will lead to the production of 11 million tonnes of wheat; 18 million tons of maize; 6 million tons of rice; and 2.5 million tons of soybeans.

The Facility has a structure for working with multilateral development partners to ensure rapid alignment and implementation, increased reach and effective impact.

This will increase technical readiness and responsiveness, while including short-term measures to address the urgent food crisis and the long-term sustainability and resilience of African food systems.

For example, the Facility will use its convening influence with major fertilizer manufacturers, loan guarantees and other financial instruments to deliver fertilizer to smallholder farmers across Africa over the next four agricultural seasons. After consultations, African Union agriculture and finance ministers also agreed to implement key policy reforms to overcome systemic barriers that prevent farmers from receiving modern inputs. This includes strengthening national institutions that oversee input markets.

Weaning Africa off wheat imports

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, while expanding access to agricultural fertilizers.

The five-year phase will provide seeds and inputs to 40 million farmers under the AfDB’s Technologies for African Agriculture Transformation program.

Over the past three years, this initiative has provided heat-tolerant wheat varieties to 1.8 million farmers in seven countries, increasing wheat production by 2.7 million metric tons, worth $840 million.

“The Africa Emergency Food Production Facility builds on lessons learned from the African Development Bank’s Feed Africa Response to Covid-19 programme”,said Dr. Beth Dunford, AfDB Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development.

“This program has provided a strategic roadmap to support Africa’s agricultural sector and protect food security from the impact of the pandemic.

A global cause

The African Development Bank’s African Emergency Food Production Facility​ is designed to support African countries through the food crisis.

In April, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres appointed Dr. Akinwumi Adesina to a select steering committee of the Global Crisis Response Group.

The Global Alliance for Food Security – led by the German government – provides a forum for the Emergency Food Program Facility in Africa, which is part of a coordinated and collective effort by development partners and countries to accelerate the short-term food production while remaining focused on medium and long-term actions to build resilience.

The AfDB has also partnered with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and agreed to be part of the coordination team and steering committee of the Food and Agricultural Resilience Mission (FARM), supported by the French government. .

The Facility lays the groundwork and complements FARM’s activities, which aim to strengthen local production systems in Africa and reduce food losses to support the development of sustainable and resilient food systems.

The African Development Bank Group, headquartered in Côte d’Ivoire, comprises three entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). Present in 41 African countries with an external office in Japan, the Bank contributes to the economic development and social progress of its 54 regional member states.

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