As food security for millions of Africans continues to be impacted by rising food and fuel prices further compounded by threats of a debt crisis in some countries, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) are joining forces to address the structural problems hampering agricultural productivity in Africa through a new program aimed at feeding Africa sustainably.
IFAD and AfDB signed a letter of intent in support of the pan-African Mission 1 for 200 (M1-200) – a joint initiative created to reduce Africa’s food import dependency, and build sustainable, inclusive, and climate-adapted food systems. New investment partners and much-needed sources of funding for Africa are sought out under this new program.
“The current convergence of crises has exposed the underlying structural issues affecting agriculture and food systems. Many countries in Africa need to find solutions now to avert more extreme consequences,” said IFAD President Alvaro Lario.
In Africa, high fertilizer prices continue to be a significant hurdle to food production in many low-income countries. In addition, food supplies are expected to be affected by limited grain imports due to the war in Ukraine, climate-related shocks, and persistent drought conditions in some countries. Since 2020, there has been an 8.5 percent rise in the cost of a typical food consumption basket in Africa, according to International Monetary Fund data. Now, high-interest rates coupled with currency depreciation are compounding debt in many low-income countries. About 60 per cent are at high risk or in debt distress, exposing countries to a debt default in the midst of a historic food crisis.
M1-200 seeks to attract investments to boost small and medium enterprises in the agriculture sector. The initiative will ensure that small-scale food producers across the agriculture value chain are included and that additional jobs are created for those that need one.
“Africa’s agribusiness sector is projected to output US$1 trillion by 2030 and presents a sound business opportunity for investors,” said Lario.
The latest climate-induced, economic and social shocks that hit countries in Africa have increased hunger and extreme poverty, reversing years of steady development progress. Africa currently has the highest hunger rates in the world – one person out of five suffers from hunger – and a total of 278 million people are food insecure, according to the latest State of Food Insecurity report issued by the UN.
“Only investments in agriculture that support small-scale farmers will get us out of this worrying downward spiral of crisis after crisis. Strategic investments will boost agricultural productivity, they will build food sovereignty and they will pave the way for more equitable distribution and access to food, bringing opportunities for all,” Lario added.
The President of IFAD also emphasized the UN Fund’s commitment to invest in the transformation of African agriculture and rural development through public and private partnerships.
Lario reminded those attending the summit that IFAD is an institution that can “mobilize, directly or indirectly, and assemble much larger volumes of finance from different sources than our size would suggest.”
M1-200 builds on AfDB’s flagship Feed Africa strategy and complements IFAD’s core programs, including its portfolio of investments in the areas of inclusive rural transformation, agricultural development, nutrition and food security, and climate adaptation, all of which is geared towards supporting small-scale farmers as the cornerstone of food systems transformation.
This new agreement reinforces the previous commitment that IFAD and AfBD have to boost agricultural production by doubling productivity levels through expanding existing agro-technologies, investing in access to markets, and promoting agricultural research and development.