In a bid to address the looming food crisis in Africa following the Russia – Ukraine war, the African Development Bank (AfDB) says it has approved the sum of USD1.5 billion to cushion its effect in the continent.
The fund is expected to reach about 20 million farmers in the continent facing shortage of at least 30 million metric tonnes of food, especially essential commodities including wheat, maize, and soybeans imported from Russia and Ukraine.
“The US$1.5 billion…. will be used to support African countries to produce food and do so rapidly,” AfDB’s Group President Akinwumi Adesina told the media ahead of annual general meetings in Ghana’s capital Accra.
The programme aims to help produce 38 million tonnes of food. This will consist of 11 million tonnes of wheat, 18 million tonnes of maize, six million tonnes of rice and 2.5 million tonnes of soya beans.
“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,” Adesina said.
“Africa will feed itself with pride for there is no dignity in begging for food.”
For this to be achieved, farmers will have access to seeds, fertiliser as well as services and support in post-harvest management, the AfDB said in a statement. It will also provide financing and credit guarantees for large-scale supply of fertilizer.
According to a statement issued by continent’s financier, the food production programme “is an unprecedented comprehensive initiative to support smallholder farmers in filling the food shortfall.”
The price of wheat has soared in Africa by over 45 percent in the heat of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Fertiliser prices have gone up by 300 percent and the continent faces a fertiliser shortage of two million tonnes.
Many African countries have already seen price hikes in bread and other food items, worsened by the rise in fuel for transport.
“If this deficit is not made up, food production in Africa will decline by at least 20 percent and the continent could lose over US$11 billion in food production value,” the AfDB said.