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AfDB sets $1.5 billion food security fund

Malawi tipped on benefiting

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Tamani Nkhono Mvula

African countries are poised to benefit from the African Development (AfDB’s) $1.5 billion facility set to avert a looming food crisis on the continent.

Through the facility dubbed the African Emergency Food Production Facility, the continent’s development finance institution, will provide 20 million African smallholder farmers with certified seeds.

An agriculture policy expert has since tipped the government to be systematic if it is to reap the most of the arrangement.

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The facility is earmarked to increase access to agricultural fertilisers and enable farmers to rapidly produce 38 million tons of food, an equivalent of a $12 billion increase in food production, in just two years.

The African Development Bank’s $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.

The African Emergency Food Production Facility will provide 20 million farmers with certified seeds, fertiliser, and extension services. It will also support market growth and post-harvest management.

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In a statement, AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina said the fund is ideal in converting the region into a food basket.

“Food aid cannot feed Africa. Africa does not need bowls in hand. Africa needs seeds in the ground, and mechanical harvesters to harvest bountiful food produced locally. Africa will feed itself with pride for there is no dignity in begging for food…” Adesina says.

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

Through the facility, the 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 to solve the structural issues that impede farmers from receiving modern inputs. This includes strengthening national institutions overseeing input markets.

It 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.

In an interview yesterday, local agricultural policy expert Tamani Nkhono Mvula said Malawi needs to be systematically positioned if it is to tap into the fund.

“Such kind of facilities would need us to get prepared in such a way that we look at the conditions put forward and if we are qualifying, we need to make sure that our farmers are well organised.

“For us to fully benefit out of such arrangements, we should not only look for food security; We need to look more on commercialisation of the smallholder farming in Malawi,” Nkhono Mvula said.

Malawi remains an agrarian economy, but the share of the sector to the national gross domestic product has been shaky.

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