An official of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has said that the bank will launch an $850 million agricultural programme to transform the sector and reduce food imports into Africa.
Director of Agriculture in the bank, Dr Chiji Ojukwu, disclosed this in Abuja at the International Conference on Wheat, organised by the Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops project of the bank.
Ojukwu said the project to be called Technology for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), would ensure the generation, sustainable dissemination and adoption of agricultural technologies and innovations.
While noting that the new programme will cost about $850 million dollars of which wheat alone is $20.8 million, Ojukwu said “we are likely going to get the approval for the programme this year and after that, it will start”.
He further listed some agricultural produce that would be boosted in the project to include cassava, rice, wheat and maize among others.
The AfDB director noted that the bank had also introduced a programme known as ‘Feed Africa’, to reduce the level of food imports across African continent.
Ojukwu said the project would be aimed at tackling issues associated with productivity increase, value addition and infrastructure deficit.
He also pointed out that the project would also help to catalase additional financing through innovative methods and ensure enabling environment by government.
“The idea behind `Feed Africa’, is to reduce the level imports. “Africa imports over 35.4 billion dollars of food annually and if not checked, in the next ten years, it will rise to 110 billion dollars annually.
“Our bank came up with this programme which is focusing on 18 commodity value chains like wheat, rice, cassava and a number of tree crops that Africa spends so much money importing”, he added.
The Director, however added that it would also encourage and ensure the involvement of women and young people in agriculture.
The Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops (SARD-SC) project of the bank, is to enhance economic growth, food security and nutrition and contribute to poverty reduction in Africa.