Upscaling African food production

Doaa A. Moneim, Monday 30 May 2022

Al-Ahram Weekly reports on the African Development Bank’s efforts to help the continent cover its food needs.

Upscaling African food production
Egypt wants to benefit from the AfDB s expertise in agricultural development


Egypt is in talks with the African Development Bank (AfDB) in order to benefit from the bank’s financing and expertise to boost its wheat, maize, and soybean cultivation. The AfDB is currently doing just that in Ghana through its flagship Planting for Food and Jobs Programme, which aims to encourage Ghanaian young people to venture into agriculture-related businesses.

Two main projects are being implemented under the programme in Ghana’s Savannah region in a pilot phase, the Savannah Zone Agriculture Productivity Empowerment Product (SAPIP) and the Savannah Investment Programme (SIP), AfDB Chief Agricultural Policy Economist Philip Boahen told Al-Ahram Weekly on the sidelines of its 57th annual meetings taking place in the Ghanaian capital Accra this week.

The AfDB is financing the two programmes with a total of about $73 million through 2024 with the aim of securing Ghana’s national needs of grains and poultry and helping to achieve Africa’s food security and self-sufficiency more generally. The Programmes began in 2019, but the Ukraine war has pushed the Bank to accelerate their implementation to cover other African countries, including Egypt, a high priority in this regard.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Egypt is the largest wheat importer globally, with 80 per cent of its needs sourced from Ukraine and Russia. Regarding the sum the bank is expected to make available to Egypt as part of the programmes, Boahen said this would be decided after the Egyptian government’s approval.

Since 2020, the SIP has supported 81 farmers in Ghana to cultivate over 11.5 hectares of land, 35 per cent of which is planted with soybeans and the rest with maize. Under the SAPIP, the AfDB is also financing another pilot programme, called the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation in Ghana’s Savannah (TAAT-S), which has thus far been rolled out on three farms and contributed about 7.4 per cent of the country’s national food security in 2021.

The larger TAAT Programme has delivered climate-smart seeds to 12 million farmers in 27 countries over the past two years and has delivered water-efficient maize to 5.6 million households in East Africa, an area hit by severe droughts three years ago, according to AfDB data.

“We have to do everything we can to support upscaling wheat production in Africa to address the looming food crisis caused by the ongoing global economic challenges,” Boahen said.

Ahead of the annual meetings, the AfDB’s board of governors approved a $1.5 billion Emergency Food Production Facility last Friday with the aim of helping to address the global food crisis.

The bank’s annual meetings this year focus on accelerating climate adaptation in Africa as well as preparing for the UN COP27 meeting on climate change that Egypt is hosting in Sharm El-Sheikh in November.

Speaking to the Weekly, AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina said the bank fully supported Egypt in this regard and added that it would make available financing for the event that would showcase the serious challenges the African continent is currently facing, including the threat of climate change and the looming food crisis.

A delegation from the AfDB led by the bank’s vice-president for power, energy, climate change, and green growth, Kevin Kariuki, paid a one-week visit to Egypt in March to show support for Egypt on hosting the COP27 meeting.

The bank is working with other international financial institutions to create an alliance supporting green infrastructure in Africa at the COP27, Kariuki said.

During the welcoming event at this week’s meetings in Accra, Adesina noted that Africa loses $7.5 billion per year due to climate change and its associated impacts and that this figure is projected to rise to $50 billion a year by 2040.

“Africa, which accounts for just four per cent of global-greenhouse gas emissions, is short-changed by climate finance,” the Bank’s president said.

Africa’s financing needs to address climate change range between $1.3 trillion and $1.6 trillion in 2020-30, Adesina noted, adding that Africa is not getting enough resources to tackle the crisis.

“Africa gets only three per cent of total global climate finance. Climate financing mobilised globally falls short of Africa’s needs by $100 to $127 billion annually between 2020-30,” Adesina said.

According to AfDB estimates, the African countries need $3.5 trillion in energy investments every year between 2016 and 2050 to fulfil the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change on the way to net-zero emissions.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 26 May, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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