Poised to end hunger across the continent and make it the breadbasket the globe, the African Development Bank Group says plans to commit $10bn over the next five years to boost efforts at ending hunger, becoming a primary food provider for itself and globally.
AfDB Group President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, who announced this at the Dakar 2 Africa Food Summit at the Senegalese capital, on Wednesday, lamented that “over 283m Africans go to bed hungry every day. This is not acceptable. No mother should ever have to struggle with rumbling of the stomach of a hungry child.”
“We must raise the bar. We must raise our ambition. 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,” said Adesina.
He urged African leaders to turn political will into decisive actions to deliver food security for Africa, “We must strongly support farmers, especially smallholder farmers, majority of whom are women, and get more young people into agriculture. And we must take agriculture as a business, not a development activity, and boost support to the private sector.”
He called on over 34 heads of state, 70 government ministers, the private sector, farmers, development partners, and corporate executives, to work out compacts that would deliver food and agriculture transformation at scale across Africa.
He encouraged the over one thousand delegates and dignitaries in attendance, including the President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins, to take collective actions to unlock the continent’s agricultural potential to become a global breadbasket.
The Dakar 2 summit with the theme Feed Africa: food sovereignty and resilience, takes place amid supply chain disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Government of Senegal and the AfDB Group co-hosted the summit eight years after the inaugural Dakar 1 summit where the newly elected Adesina announced the Bank’s Feed Africa strategy.
Declaring the summit open, President Sall who is also the African Union chairperson — said the time had come for the continent to feed itself by adding value and stepping up the use of technology.
According to him, “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.”
Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat said the summit was timely and would provide innovative solutions to help Africa become less dependent on food imports.
For him, “food sovereignty should be our new weapon of freedom,” urging development partners to work together within existing structures, such as Agenda 2063 and the African Continental Free Trade Area, for sustainable transformation.
Mahamat commended the bank for rolling out transformative initiatives, including a $1.5bn emergency food production facility in 2022 to help African countries avert a potential food crisis following Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The President of Kenya, William Ruto, described as shameful the fact “that 60 years after independence, we are gathered to talk about feeding ourselves. We can and we must do better.”
President Higgins of Ireland said with Africa’s young population accounting for about 20% of the world’s young people, the continent had great potential. He 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,” Higgins said.
In his message to the summit, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres acknowledged that Africa was currently facing the challenges of climate change and food insecurity, as the Russia-Ukraine war had caused the price of fertilizers to shoot up and made their supply difficult.
He pledged the UN’s support to help Africa become a global food powerhouse.
President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria challenged countries to 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 added.
The Nigerian president commended Dr. Adesina and the bank for rolling out special agro-industrial processing zones across the continent, including in Nigeria.
He said: “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.”
During the three-day summit, 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.
Central bank governors and finance ministers are expected to develop financing arrangements to implement the food and agriculture delivery compacts, in conjunction with agriculture ministers, private sector players, commercial banks, financial institutions, and multilateral partners and organisations.