The African Development Bank Group’s Board of Directors over the weekend approved a $1.5 billion facility to help African countries avert a looming food crisis.
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 Bank said African farmers urgently need high-quality seeds and inputs before the planting season begins in May to immediately boost food supplies.
The $1.5 billion African Emergency Food Production Facility is an unprecedented comprehensive initiative to support smallholder farmers in filling the food shortfall, the Bank said.
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 $12 billion increase in food production in just two years.
AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina said 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…,” he added
The price of wheat has soared in Africa 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, says AfDB. “If this deficit is not made up, food production in Africa will decline by at least 20% and the continent could lose over $11 billion in food production value”.
The latest $1.5 billion strategy will lead to 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, according to the Bank .
The African Development Bank 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.