By Francis Ogwo
As a measure of guaranteeing food security in Africa, the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) has planned to invest $25 billion in developing agriculture in Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Gabon and Sudan.
The President of AfDB, Akinwumi Adesina, made this disclosure in a statement issued on Wednesday in which he said the fund would be distributed among the selected countries.
The AfDB Boss added that the objective of the fund is to boost domestic production of fertiliser in Nigeria as against the current status of importation.
In his words: “In Nigeria, the Bank is supporting Indorama Eleme Fertilizers and Chemicals with $210 million for the construction and operation of two urea fertilizer plants, with a capacity of 2.8 million tons per annum.
“The Bank provided $300 million corporate loans to Dangote Industries, for the establishment of a crude oil refinery and a urea fertilizer plant with 2.8 million tons per year capacity.”
Adesina also added that the green sector of Africa would produce the next millionaires and billionaires of the continent citing the estimation of the food and agriculture market at over $1 trillion by 2030.
On the importance of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Adesina noted that countries in Africa must use the market effectively by producing more food through agro-industrialization that supports smallholder farmers and the private sector.
“With a large number of youth are moving into Agriculture, AfDB has provided $406 million to support 23,000 young agripreneurs in 14 countries, as well as $120,000 cash prize awards for agricultural start-ups,” he added.
Adesina noted that a fund is underway to establish a Fund for Agricultural Finance in Africa (FAFINA), to support small and medium-sized agribusinesses in collaboration with the AfDB.
Statistics reveal that approximately 27.4% of the population in Africa was classified as severely food insecure in 2016, which is almost four times as high as any other region. Alarmingly, food insecurity is on the rise, specifically in sub-Saharan Africa.
From 2014 to 2016, food insecurity increased by about 3% (FAO, 2017).
Experts say agriculture would remain a vital bailout of the impoverishment made worse by the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic with its harsh economic realities.