Do not overlook Africa’s trillion-dollar food and agribusiness sector – Adesina
The President of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina says Africa’s food and agribusiness will be worth an estimated $1 trillion by 2030.
He told participants at the World Food Prize Foundation’s Norman E. Borlaug Dialogue in Des Moines, Iowa that several world leaders are actively bolstering food production and food security in Africa.
The annual event in America’s agricultural heartland, revolved around this year’s theme of “harnessing change,” with delegates and panellists exploring innovative ideas to shore up innovation, adaptation, and diversification, and mechanisms for improving resilience, recovery from shocks, and sustainable systems to feed the world.
This includes coming together for a landmark global Feed Africa summit in Dakar (the Dakar 2 Summit) last January.
He said the continent, which was home to 65 per cent of the world’s remaining uncultivated arable land, ironically imports most of its food.
He said African leaders were intent on ensuring that their countries were self-sufficient in food and become food exporters.
“There is a realisation that by 2050, the global population will reach nine billion, creating a pressing need for Africa to increase agricultural productivity to meet rising demands for food,” he added.
He said the African Development Bank, which was leading the charge to feed Africa, played an active part in the Borlaug Dialogue.
At a session titled “From Dakar 2 to Des Moines” on Thursday, Dr Adesina highlighted the achievements of the Dakar 2 summit, which the Bank organised in conjunction with the Senegalese government and the African Union.
Dr Adesina explained how 34 African leaders endorsed country food and agriculture delivery compacts that produced action- and outcome-driven plans to ensure food security and unlock the continent’s full agricultural potential within five years.
He said this was in line with the core of the Bank’s Feed Africa strategy, which it launched in 2016.
Since then, he added, the strategy had supported more than 250 million people, who had benefitted from improved agriculture technologies.
Dr Adesina said partners had committed over $70 billion to support the food compacts.
He said the Bank was expected to provide $10 billion over the next five years.
The Bank Head said Dakar 2 reflected the collective resolve of African leaders to ensure the continent feeds itself.
Dr Adesina invited investors and other stakeholders to invest confidently in the African food and agribusiness sector.
He said political will was strong and that results on the ground showed tremendous promise.
President Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia, said: “As African leaders, we are all committed to self-sufficiency in food production. Today, Ethiopia, for the first time in its history, is self-sufficient in wheat production and is a wheat exporter to its neighbours.”
Madam Zewde acknowledged that this groundbreaking achievement was helped by the AfDB’s Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) initiative.
TAAT has distributed more than 100,000 tons of certified seeds of heat-tolerant wheat varieties, increasing Ethiopia’s wheat production by 1.6 million metric tons in 2023.
Vice President Kashim Shettima of Nigeria further underlining the high level of African participation at the Borlaug Dialogue, said leadership was essential to feed Africa and develop the continent.
“A nation falls or rises dependent on the quality of its leadership,” he emphasised.
The African Development Bank has already committed $853 million to public-sector initiated SAPZs and successfully mobilised financing of $661 million alongside its co-financing partners.
Collectively, the partners are investing more than $1.5 billion to establish 25 agro-industrial zones and supporting ecosystems in 13 countries.
This year’s Borlaug laureate is Heidi Kuhn, recognised for her farmer-focused development model and work that revitalises farmlands, food security, livelihoods and resilience in conflicted affected regions around the world.