. Promises to help Nigeria boost agricultural production
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has reassured that Africans will not go hungry for a lack of food to buy amid growing fears that the impact of the Russian–Ukraine war could trigger a food crisis in Africa this year.
AfDB President, Adewumi Adesina, gave the assurance yesterday at a pre-opening media briefing of the AfDB Annual Meeting in Accra, Ghana.
Adesina said: “The Russian-Ukraine war has led to new challenges in addition to existing challenges of climate change impact and Covid, but we are not deterred by the challenges.
“We have set up a $1.5billion Emergency Intervention Fund to ensure we do not experience a looming food crisis. Africa will not have a food crisis,” adding that the continent ought not to be begging for food but to produce its food.
This is even as he expressed his readiness to help Nigeria return to the electronic wallet system, which he introduced as the Minister of Agriculture, for input distribution to farmers to boost agricultural production.
He hinged his belief that there won’t be food crisis in Africa on the fact that the continent was able to quickly bounce back from the COVID-19 impact, despite not having access to tools, including vaccines to fight the pandemic.
The Russian-Ukraine war has led to new challenges in addition to existing challenges of climate change impact and Covid, but we are not deterred by the challenges.
Averting food crisis
Adesina is convinced that with adequate and effective planning, Africa will avert any looming food crisis, citing AfDB’s emergency response in tackling the pandemic, including the $10billion COVID-19 Response Fund to support African countries.
This, he said, accelerated growth as Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) rebounded from its lowest in 20 years to positive in 2022.
He noted that the global disruption in the food supply chain arising from the Russia-Ukraine war, which has left Africa with at least 30 million metric tons short of food, especially in wheat, maize and soybeans imported from the black sea region.
This, notwithstanding, he insisted that with access to quality seeds and inputs as well as fertilisers to farmers across Africa, the food crisis will be averted on the continent.
“I am not scared of a food crisis,” he said, citing a similar experience when he was the agricultural minister in Nigeria when he believed that the country would not experience a food crisis.
He therefore challenged Africa countries to come up with a good plan to avert the looming food crisis, adding that AfDB has launched the African Emergency Food Production Facility to boost output.
The Facility will provide 20 million African smallholder farmers with certified seeds, increase farmers’ access to fertilizers and enable them to rapidly-produce 38 million tons of food that will be valued at $12billion in two years.
On climate change, he said Africa is committed to reducing its carbon emissions through energy transition, with AfDB spearheading investments in renewable energy.
We are going to help the government to do that because when farmers have quality seeds and fertilisers, they can rapidly triple food production.
Adesina reaffirmed that as Africa’s biggest economy, Nigeria is a priority to the AfDB, and urged the Nigerian Government to re-introduce the e-wallet system, to ensure effective distribution of fertilizers and seeds to smallholder farmers.
“Nigeria needs to go back and use the electronic wallet system that I developed when I was a minister to get fertilisers straight to farmers and cut out all the middle men.
“We are going to help the government to do that because when farmers have quality seeds and fertilisers, they can rapidly triple food production,” he said.
The system allowed the government to register about 14.5 million farmers and reached them directly with inputs such as seeds and fertilisers, via electronic coupons on their mobile phones.
The AfDB President said regarding support: “In Nigeria, we have provided $540 million for special agro-industrial processing zones in seven states.
“That will allow Nigeria to have special zones where you can have agro processing value addition and increased competitiveness of agriculture.”
He also said Nigeria will benefit significantly from the African Emergency Food Production Plan, to which the Bank will provide additional $30 million reallocated fund to produce in the dry season.
“We are not alone, we put in $170 million and others put in money such as the Islamic Development Bank and other partners,” he said.