AfDB Group seeks US support for $1.5bn emergency food plan for Ghana, Africa

The president of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has made a compelling case, for the United States to back the institution’s $1.5 billion emergency food production plan.

The plan seeks to avert a looming food crisis in Africa caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Speaking live via videoconference from Accra, Ghana, DrAdesina said the proposed Africa Emergency Food Production Plan would result in the rapid production of 38 million tonnes of food across Africa over the next two years.

“The African Development Bank, with your support, is prepared to meet this new challenge and others head-on,” he said.

The plan is anchored on the provision of certified seeds of climate-adapted varieties to 20 million African farmers.

With the disruption of food supplies arising from the Russia-Ukraine war, Africa faces a shortage of at least 30 million metric tonnes of food, especially wheat, maize, and soybeans imported from the two countries.

DrAdesina said the African Development Bank would invest $1.3 billion in the plan’s implementation.

He called on the US to make up the funding balance.

“With US support to reduce the $200 million financing gap – we can ensure the Africa Emergency Food Production Plan’s success,” he said.

The Africa Emergency Food Production Plan is currently before the African Development Bank’s Board of Directors for approval.

Also providing testimony were David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme and TjadaD’Oyen McKenna, Chief Executive Officer of non-governmental organisation Mercy Corps.

McKenna said, “A perfect storm is leading to heightened global food insecurity, worse, much worse than the previous food crises over the past decade.”

She cited the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change as factors sharpening the current food insecurity.

Mr Beasley said food insecurity had already begun to rise sharply before the war.

He said 135 million people were acutely food-insecure before the onset of the pandemic. “COVID-19 comes along and that number went from 135 million to 276 million people marching toward starvation.”

DrAdesinaemphasised that the African Development Bank’s food production plan would foster the production of nutritious food rather than simply calories. “One of the things we will be supporting through this emergency food production plan is bio-fortified foods. Sorghum fortified with iron. Nutritional supplementation is important,” he said.

The Bank president said the bank was setting up meetings with international fertiliser companies to discuss ways to ensure that African farmers continued to have access to such inputs.

“If we don’t solve the fertiliser problem, we cannot solve the food problem.

According to Dr Adesina, the Africa Emergency Food Production Plan would have a long-term impact on Africa’s food productivity.

The initiative will “drive the structural changes in agriculture, to unleash the full potential of Africa to become a breadbasket to the world,” he said. –

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