The African Development Bank, AFDB, has proposed a $1 billion initiative to increase wheat production in Africa in order to avoid possible food shortages as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
According to Akinwumi Adesina, the head of Africa’s largest multilateral lender, the AfDB is seeking funds to mitigate food shortages by assisting 40 million African farmers in adopting climate-resilient technology and increasing their output of heat-tolerant wheat types and other crops.
He said: “We are going to be really ramping up our efforts to mobilise that money…If there was ever a time that we needed to really drastically raise food production in Africa, for Africa’s food security and to mitigate the impact of this food crisis arising from this war, it is now.”
The Ukraine conflict and Russia’s broad sanctions have thrown off grain imports at a time when global inventories were already low, heightening the prospect of a full-fledged food crisis.
The two countries together generate more than a fifth of worldwide wheat exports, and the UN has warned that already high food prices might rise by another 22% as commerce is stifled and future production is slashed as a result of the fighting.
The dangers are especially severe in Africa, where the Adesina estimates that 283 million people were already starving before the war began.
The lender’s initiative aims to enhance wheat, rice, soybeans, and other crop production in order to feed nearly 200 million Africans. Adesina is convening a meeting of Africa’s finance and agriculture ministers to examine the best ways to fund it.
According to Adesina, new technologies have already helped Ethiopia increase wheat production, and the country now aims to be self-sufficient in the grain supply within three years. Surplus wheat might then be sent to countries like Egypt, which imports the most wheat in the world.
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