Rapid support for Africa’s smallholder farmers
With the African Emergency Food Production Facility, the African Development Bank Group's Board of Directors approved a USD 1.5 billion initiative to help African countries avert a looming food crisis, the African Development Bank (AfDB) reported in May 2022.
Disrupted food supplies arising from the Russia-Ukraine war mean that Africa now faces a shortage of at least 30 million metric tons of food, especially wheat, maize, and soybeans imported from both countries.
The African Emergency Food Production Facility will provide 20 million African smallholder farmers with certified seeds. It will also increase access to agricultural fertilisers and enable smallholders to rapidly produce 38 million tons of food. This would be a USD 12 billion increase in food production in just two years, according to AfDB.
The African Emergency Food Production Facility has benefited from stakeholder consultations, including those with fertiliser producers and separately with African Union agriculture and finance ministers earlier this month. The ministers agreed to implement reforms to address the systemic hurdles that prevent modern input markets from performing effectively.
High prices for staple foods coupled with fertiliser shortages
The price of wheat has soared in Africa by over 45 per cent since the war in Ukraine began. Fertiliser prices have gone up by 300 per cent, and the continent faces a fertiliser shortage of 2 million metric tons. Many African countries have already seen price hikes in bread and other food items. If this deficit is not made up for, food production in Africa will decline by at least 20 per cent and the continent could lose over USD 11 billion in food production value, AfDB warns.
The AfDB’s USD 1.5 billion strategy will lead to the production of 11 million tons of wheat, 18 million tons of maize, 6 million tons of rice, and 2.5 million tons of soybeans.
AfdB will provide fertiliser to smallholder farmers across Africa over the next four farming seasons, using its convening influence with major fertiliser manufacturers, loan guarantees, and other financial instruments.
The Facility will also create a platform to advocate for critical policy reforms that will solve the structural issues impeding farmers from receiving modern inputs. This includes strengthening national institutions overseeing input markets.
Working with multilateral development partners
The Facility has a structure for working with multilateral development partners. This will ensure rapid alignment and implementation, enhanced reach, and effective impact. It will increase technical preparedness and responsiveness. In addition, it includes short, medium and long-term measures to address both the urgent food crisis and the long-term sustainability and resilience of Africa’s food systems.
A five-year ramp-up phase will follow the two-year African Emergency Food Production Facility. This will build on previous gains, strengthen self-sufficiency in wheat, maize and other staple crops, as well as expanding access to agricultural fertilisers.
The five-year phase will deliver seeds and inputs to 40 million farmers under the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation programme.
The Global Alliance for Food Security spearheaded by the Government of Germany provides an excellent forum for the African Emergency Food Program Facility, which is part of a coordinated and collective effort by development partners and countries to accelerate food production in the short term while remaining focused on medium- and longer-term actions to build resilience.
For the Food and Agriculture Resilience Mission (FARM) supported by the Government of France, the African Development Bank (AfDB) is partnering with IFAD and has agreed to be part of the coordination team and steering committee of FARM. The African Emergency Food Program Facility lays out the foundation for and complements FARM activities, aiming to strengthen local production systems in Africa and reduce food loss to support development of sustainable and resilient food systems.