The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has announced that it will invest $10 billion over the next five years to ensure food security in Africa.
The bank’s president, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, made the commitment at the Diamniadio, Senegal, Dakar Africa Food Summit.
“Feed Africa: Food Sovereignty and Resilience” is the theme of the summit.
According to Adesina, the commitment also aims to support Africa’s initiatives to eradicate hunger and establish itself as a major producer of food for the rest of the world.
“The African Development Bank will commit 10 billion dollars in the next five years in direct support for the Food and Agriculture Delivery Compacts.
“And I know that the rest of the global community will also support this effort. Together, with strong partnerships, we will help Africa achieve its goal.
“Africa can and must feed itself. With 65 per cent of the uncultivated arable land left in the world being in Africa, what Africa does with agriculture will determine the future of food in the world.
“Now, we must move from short term to longer-term efforts to bolster food production in Africa, reduce malnutrition, and secure Africa’s food supplies.
“It is time for Africa to feed Africa for a well-fed nation is a more productive nation.
“A well-fed nation is a healthy nation. And only a food secure continent can develop with pride. We must arise and say to ourselves, it is time to feed Africa. The timing is right, and the moment is now: Feed Africa we must.’’
The AfDB president encouraged African leaders to take collective action to unlock the continent’s agricultural potential to become a global breadbasket.
Adesina also spoke on the need to work out compacts that would deliver food and agriculture transformation at scale across Africa.
He was speaking to more than 34 Heads of State and Government, 70 government ministers, the private sector, farmers, development partners, and corporate executives.
“Your Excellences, we already have your strong political will enshrined in the Malabo Declaration of the African Union.
“Now, let us turn political will into decisive actions. We have worked with you and your countries to develop Food and Agriculture Delivery Compacts.’’
Adesina, however, said the delivery compacts set clear targets and timelines on achieving food security.
He said they would be supported by governments, development partners and the private sector.
“We must make agriculture and agribusiness very attractive to the youth. We must strongly support farmers, especially smallholder farmers, majority of whom are women, and get more young people into agriculture. We must support women-owned and women-led agribusinesses.
“And we must take agriculture as a business, not a development activity, and boost support to the private sector.’’
Opening the summit, President of Senegal, Macky Sall said the time had come for the continent to feed itself by adding value and stepping up the use of technology.
Sall is also the African Union chairperson.
“From the farm to the plate, we need full food sovereignty, and we must increase land under cultivation and market access to enhance cross-border trade.”
Moreover, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said the Dakar summit was timely and would provide innovative solutions to help Africa become less dependent on food imports.
“Food sovereignty should be our new weapon of freedom,” Mahamat said.
The chairperson urged development partners to work together within existing structures, such as Agenda 2063 and the African Continental Free Trade Area for sustainable transformation.
Also, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria said countries must offer more robust support for farmers, dedicate a chunk of the national budget to agriculture, and motivate youth and women to farm.
“Feeding Africa is imperative. We must ensure we feed ourselves today, tomorrow, and well into the future.”
Buhari also commended Adesina for rolling out Special Agro-industrial Processing Zones across the continent, including Nigeria.
“Special agro-industrial processing zones are game changers for the structural development of the agriculture sectors.
“They will help us generate wealth, develop integrated infrastructure around special agro-processing zones, and add value.”
Also, President of Kenya, William Ruto said: “It is a shame that 60 years after independence, we are gathered to talk about feeding ourselves. We can and we must do better.”
However, President Michael Higgins of Ireland said with Africa’s young population accounting for about 20 per cent of the world’s young people, the continent had great potential.
Higgins said the rest of the world would look up to it in the future.
“Let us make this century Africa’s Century, one which will see the continent become free from hunger.”
The food summit is being held from Jan. 25 to 27.
Private sector players are expected to commit to national food and agriculture delivery compacts to drive policies, create structural reforms, and attract private sector investment.
Furthermore, Central Bank governors and finance ministers are expected to develop financing arrangements to implement the food and agriculture delivery compacts.
They are expected to work with agriculture ministers, private sector players, commercial banks, financial institutions, and multilateral partners and organisations. (NAN)