The African Development Bank (AfDB) is to invest $24 billion in agriculture over the next 10 years to help unlock its potential and assure food security in Africa.
The president of the bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, revealed at a side event of the ongoing Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium in Des Moines, Iowa, USA on Wednesday.
Adesina said there was need for supportive public policies and significant investments in infrastructure, especially for roads, irrigation, storage, warehousing and agro-processing.
He said that AfDB would provide support to strengthen African agricultural research and development systems to play significant roles in the transformation processes.
The former Minister of Agriculture said the support was to ensure that valuable research no longer simplied gathered dust on the shelves of academia.
The president said that AfDB’s Feed Africa strategy had launched the Transformation of the African Savannah Initiatives (TASI) to help unlock the potential of the Savannas of Africa.
He said that the initiative would start by bringing approximately two million hectares of savannah in eight African countries – Ghana, Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia and Mozambique.
These countries come under the cultivation of maize, soybean and livestock production in optimum conditions.
“Success in this endeavour requires that we wake up the savannas of Africa.
”When we do so, African agriculture will indeed rise up from its slumber.
“Let’s wake up Africa’s savannas and turn them into the new wealth zones of Africa and unleash Africa as a global powerhouse in food. Together let arise and feed Africa.
“Valuable research must meet the needs of farmers and agri-businesses in ways that exponentially increase productivity and improve the quality of lives of our rural poor.
“Africa must learn from the experiences that have worked elsewhere, while tailoring the interventions to the specific realities of Africa.
“We must ensure that small, medium scale and large-scale commercial farmers co-exist in a way that allows opportunities for all.
“Partnerships in research and development will be crucial,” Adesina said.
According to him, the bank has engaged to work with the strongest possible organisations with proven track records in tropical agriculture from South America.
He said that this included the Brazilian Research Corporation (EMBRAPA), the Agricultural Corporation of Brazil (CAMPO), and others with long experience in conservation agriculture.
Adesina said that the research institutions would work closely with the universities and the national agricultural research systems across the savannas of Africa to enhance agriculture.