The African Development Bank (AfDB) is aiming to raise $1 billion to rapidly ramp up agricultural production in Africa and stave off a potential food crisis brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The president of AfDB, Akinwumi Adesina told Reuters in an interview over the weekend.
He said the war, which has sent commodities prices soaring, is also an opportunity for the continent to position itself as a natural gas supplier for Europe and a refuge for investors fleeing Russia.
In his words, “During the coronavirus pandemic, Africa has not seen infection rates and deaths on the same levels as many more developed regions. Its economies, however, have been battered and its rebound has proven sluggish.
“Like much of the world, African nations are staring at rapidly rising consumer prices, with the war in Ukraine endangering global wheat and corn supplies and sending fuel prices soaring.
“Already, coming out of COVID we have 24 million people that are falling further into extreme poverty, and that’s going to worsen the situation,” Adesina said.
To avoid a food crisis, he said the AfDB was planning to launch an emergency food production plan that would focus on rapidly boosting wheat, maize, rice and soybean output on the continent.
“The plan is to produce roughly 30 million metric tonnes of food and to get technology into the hands of 20 million farmers. So you’re looking at big scale with small-holder farmers.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had already voiced its support to help implement the plan, which will produce food staples worth $12 billion,” Adesina said.
The bank plans to raise $1 billion needed to fund the initiative from various emergency support facilities, concessional financing and from the IMF’s proposed $50 billion resilient sustainability fund.
“When COVID struck, we were not ready. But this time, we’re fully ready,” he said.