By Favour Nnabugwu
The African Development Bank (AfDB) says that it has engaged more than 40 million farmers across the continent to produce 120 million tonnes of food by 2025.
The Bank’s Chief Economist, Prof. Kevin Chika Urama, discloes this in a chat with Nigerian journalists.
Prof. Kevin, decries the continent’s annual imports of over 100 million metric tonness of cereals alone at the cost of $75 billion.
He notes that recent external shocks, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, further demonstrated that Africa remains over-reliant on imports of food staples and agricultural inputs.
” Rising world food prices have a serious impact on households in Africa, exacerbating poverty.
“In sub-Saharan Africa, households spend up to 40% of their budget on food (compared to 17% in developed economies),” he said
He confidently says that the bank is on the move to change this narrative of overdependence on food imports from outside the continent.
“To improve farmers’ productivity and incomes, reduce post-harvest losses and increase agricultural output, and strengthen agro-food value chains, the Bank is focusing on providing modern technologies, quality seeds and inputs, modernizing agricultural tools, setting up standard processing infrastructures and adding value,” he said.
He says that the aim is to move from traditional subsistence agriculture to a modern and competitive African agro-industrial sector that can feed the entire African continent and even compete on international markets.
His words:” A vital element of the African Development Bank’s efforts to boost food production and agriculture in a climate-smart manner is its Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) platform.
TAAT has delivered heat-tolerant wheat varieties, drought-tolerant maize varieties, high-yield rice varieties and other climate-smart certified seeds to millions of Africa’s smallholder farmers
Ethiopia in particular has notched significant benefits as a result of TAAT.
Following the successful rollout of heat-tolerant wheat varieties in Ethiopia, average wheat yields increased from 2 tonnes per hectare to 4 tonnes.
As a result, Ethiopia did not import wheat in 2022 and expects to export wheat to its neighbors in 2023.
TAAT has mobilized investments of more than $800 million in the agricultural value chains of 21 African countries since its inception in 2018.
It has also mobilized $500 million in co-financing from the World Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the Islamic Development Bank, the Global Environment Facility, and other organizations.
In July 2022, the Bank Board approved an additional $27.41 million for ‘TAAT II,’ which will increase the productivity and incomes of farming households by giving them access to climate-resilient technologies in 36 low-income African countries by 2025.
TAAT-II will rely on a market-based model in partnership with the private sector to spread technologies and services (seeds, fertilizers, extension) on a larger scale.
To take advantage of the savannah, which covers 400 million hectares in Africa, a specific subprogram, ‘TAAT-S’.
The aim is to take advantage of these vast expanses by growing maize and soya competitively for the poultry industry – demand is high throughout the continent.
After a pilot project launched in Ghana in 2018, TAAT-S has been deployed in Côte d’Ivoire since 2021, followed by Congo-Brazzaville, Kenya, Nigeria, Mozambique, Uganda, Tanzania, Togo and Zambia by 2025. “