No option but to feed Africa – AfDB’s Adesina

The African Development Bank (AfDB) President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina has urged African governments to embrace a transformation in food and…

The African Development Bank (AfDB) President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina has urged African governments to embrace a transformation in food and agricultural systems stressing that scaling-up agricultural technologies and innovations can be a game-changer in food-insecure countries especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.Speaking on the sidelines of a two-day high-level dialogue called Feeding Africa: leadership to scale up successful innovations, which took place earlier this week, Dr Adesina expounded on a partnership to take technologies and innovations to hundreds of millions of farmers.

“Let us now create today, a stronger partnership: a partnership for greater scale,” Dr Adesina said.

With this new major funding initiatives launched by the coalition of multilateral development banks and development partners, the bank has listed 10 priority commodities over the next five years to help African countries achieve self-sufficiency.

The coalition’s pledge includes a commitment to boost agricultural production by doubling current productivity levels through the scaling up of agro-technologies, investing in access to markets, and promoting agricultural research and development.

As part of these efforts, IFAD, has pledged $1.5 billion to Africa to support national efforts to transform food and agricultural systems over the next three years. In addition, the organization plans to invest in creating the preconditions for increased agricultural productivity.

The Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) committed up to $1.5 billion over the period 2020-24 in agriculture. 

The Islamic Development Bank Group said it would pledge $3.5 billion in developing the agriculture sector in Africa in the next three years.

According to the bank, these investments will develop commodity value chains for both staple food and cash crops.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, joining a coalition of development partners, said it will invest $652 million in the next three years to support agriculture research and development initiatives in Africa. 

This funding is expected to empower 300 million farmers with a host of new innovation.

Speaking at the occasion, the former  UK Prime Minister Tony Blair who is currently serving as the Executive Chairman of the Institute for Global Change insisted on the strategies to make government more effective to achieve this vision.

“There is [currently] bigger challenges for some governments to get things done, how these governments harness the possibility of that technology revolution for the public good,” he said.

According to him, the question of agriculture arises because this sector is key make the continent more self-reliant and resilient.

Official estimates show that over next 30 years, Sub-Saharan Africa’s population will double to over two billion, and its economies will industrialize.

On the question of financing, Mr Blair said there was a need to mobilise not just the big instutional investors from international financial institutions, but also there is a need to engage private sector in this process.

On the challenge faced by many countries, according to him is about getting best companies available to invest in Africa and bring that technology to Africa.

While experts and policy makers attending the high-level dialogue are unanimously convinced that innovations and major improvements in the technologies employed by African smallholder farmers are needed to restore food security, the major fact is that the innovation capabilities of African agricultural systems, are still key for improving farming performance on the continent.

The question, according to Mr Blair is how do we make sure the [African] governments are properly organized in order to take advantages of these opportunities.

The Feed Africa Strategy makes a strong case for reversing the situation of a continent that spends $35.4 billion on food imports annually despite being home to 65% of the world’s undeveloped arable land.

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