THE African Development Bank (AfDB) has pledged more than US$10 billion as part of efforts to fight rising hunger and improve food security on the continent.
In an update following a two-day high-level dialogue held on 29 and 30 April 2021, the pan-African bank said of the total amount it pledged, US$1.57 billion would go towards the scaling up of 10 selected priority commodities over the next five years. This will help countries achieve self-sufficiency.
Another US$8.83 billion will go towards building strong value chains for these commodities over the next five years.
“This will include programmes to create opportunities for young people – particularly women,” it said.
In total, multilateral development banks and development partners, including AfDB, pledged over US$17 billion to improve food security.
At the meeting, 17 African heads of state signed the commitment to boost agricultural production by doubling current productivity levels through the scaling up of agro-technologies.
This will include investing in access to markets, and promoting agricultural research and development.
The various parties adopted a communiqué outlining the commitments at the end of the event.
AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina said: “Let us now create, today, a stronger partnership: a partnership for greater scale; a partnership to take technologies and innovations to hundreds of millions of farmers.”
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said it aimed to provide an additional US$1.5 billion to support national efforts to transform food and agricultural systems in Africa over the next three years.
“IFAD will also invest more in creating the pre-conditions for increased agricultural productivity. The organisation is helping to develop a growing pipeline of investments to restore land, create jobs and build resilience to climate change in the Sahel region. This will contribute to the Green Great Wall objectives, and will create 10 million jobs in the region by 2030,” the update reads in part.
IFAD president Gilbert Houngbo praised the African leaders’ commitment to increase agricultural productivity and improve food security for millions of Africans.
“By modernising African agriculture, small-holder farmers will be in a better position to bring more affordable food to consumers and create decent livelihoods for millions of young Africans involved in the processing, storage and marketing of food,” Houngbo said.
The Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), committed up to US$1.5 billion over the period 2020-2024 in agriculture while the Islamic Development Bank Group said it would earmark US$3.5 billion to develop the agricultural sector in Africa in the next three years.
It said these investments will develop commodity value chains for both staple food and cash crops. In an additional show of solidarity, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, joining a coalition of development partners, declared that it will invest US$652 million in the next three years.
It remains to be seen whether the unfolding divorce of the billionaire couple will affect the charity’s programmes.
The money from the Gates Foundation is envisaged to support agricultural research and development initiatives in Africa. This funding is expected to empower 300 million farmers with a host of new innovations.
Sub-Saharan Africa has a quarter of the world’s arable land, but produces only 10% of its agricultural output.
The low productivity of staple crops makes African agriculture uncompetitive. As a result, the continent imports one-third of the calories that it consumes. This makes food systems more vulnerable and dependent on external food supply chains.
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