Russia-Ukraine War: AfDB President Outlines Bank’s Role In Mitigating Food Crisis

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has stated measures it is taking to overcome the looming food shortage, following the Russia war on Ukraine, as both countries remains the major exporter of wheat and corn to the continent.

President of African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina who stated this during his address to the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA), Ireland’s leading international affairs think tank, said the bank responded to the looming food crisis, especially shortage of wheat and corn by launching a $1.5billion Emergency Food Production Fund.

Adesina said the bank targets the production of 38 million metric tonnes of food in the next two years, in order to supplement what the continent will not be getting as a result of Russia-Ukraine war.

“We launched a $1.5billion ‘Emergency Food Production Fund’ for African food production for Africa, to produce and compensate for what it’s not going to be getting from those countries (Russia and Ukraine). This $1.5billion emergency food production facility would allow Africa produce 38million metric tonnes of food over the next four seasons, basically the next two years.

“So we provide technology in the hands of 20 million farmers that will produce 38million metric tonnes of food, that is basically wheat; 11mmt of wheat, 18mmt of corn, 6mmt of rice and 2.5mmt of rice and that will be enough to mitigate any likely food crisis we might have on a looming food crisis in Africa”, he stated.

The Continent’s bank Chief said the measure became necessary knowing that about 30 million metric tonnes of cereal and 2 million metric tonnes of fertilizers won’t find their way to the continent because if the war between the two countries who are the leading suppliers of these products.

He said the food supply shortage has become a blessing in disguise as it has helped Africa to refocus on it agricultural potentials to feed themselves and the world. He also emphasize the need for cultural transformation in agriculture in Africa.

According to Adesina, “When we have this, my view is that Africa does need bowls in the hand to beg for food. Africa needs seeds in the soil to produce food for itself. If there is anything in my view that Africa needs to add in solving global challenges, it is that it should fully unlock the potentials of it’s agricultural sector and become a major food supplier to meet the food global needs of the world.

“In the food shortage provides an opportunity because it’s not the last time we are going to have this kind of challenge but Africa has today, 65% of the uncultivated arable land left to feed 9 billion people in the world by 2050. So what Africa does with food and agriculture is going to determine the future. So we do need to have a cultural transformation of the agricultural sector in Africa”, he said.

Citing examples of turnaround transformation in agriculture as a result of AfDB intervention, Adesina said Sudan and Ethiopia has risen to the challenges of producing wheat in large scale, and if they persevere, the Africa will not only be self-sufficient but will also become a major exporter of wheat to other parts of the world.

“We have an acronym which is Technology for Africa Agricultural Transformation, which we use to deliver technology at the scale of millions of farmers. Three years ago, we started this programme and it has delivered climate resistance technology for over 12 million farmers.

“You take for a example Sudan. We provided Sudan with 65,000 metric tonnes of heat-tolerant wheat variety. So if you take an Airbus 380 airplane, and you look at the total weight of it, both cargo, the passengers and the fuel, it’s 98.4 metric tonnes. So when I say 65,000 metric tonnes of certified heat- tolerant variety of seeds, just imagine that’s an equivalent of 666 A380 airbuses on a landing strip.
In two years, Sudan reduced it’s wheat import by 50%.

“If you take for example Ethiopia, we did the same. We gave them 61,000 metric tonnes of certified heat-tolerant wheat varieties. They started planting this in 5,000 hectares in 2018. In 2019, 2020, they went to over 167,000 hectares. Now in total, they are at 675,000 hectares.

“I was in Ethiopia with Prime Minister Abbey Ahmed just two months ago, he said, we did not import a single grain of wheat. Next year, we will grow 2 million hectares under this heat-tolerant variety and we’ll become for the first time in our history, a wheat exporting country to export 1.5-2million metric tonnes of wheat to both Kenya and Djibouti”, he said.

Dr. Akinwumi Adesina expressed confidence in the results the interventions have realised so far saying Africa will have to take back to scale but it will finally experience a real digital transformation to unlock it’s good potentials, which should have been it’s gateway to other continents.

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