The African Development Bank will launch an $850m agriculture programme to transform the sector and reduce food imports in Africa.
The Director of Agriculture in the bank, Dr Chiji Ojukwu, said, on the sideline of the International Conference on Wheat in Abuja on Tuesday, that the project, to be called Technology for African Agricultural Transformation, would ensure the generation, sustainable dissemination and adoption of agricultural technologies and innovations.
The conference was organised by the Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops project of the AfDB.
According to him, this new programme will cost about $850m of which wheat alone is $20.8m.
“We are likely going to get the approval for the programme this year and after that, it will start,’’ Ojukwu said.
He listed some agricultural produce that would be boosted in the project to include cassava, rice, wheat and maize among others.
The director noted that the bank had also introduced a programme known as `Feed Africa’ to reduce the level of food imports across the African continent.
He said the project would be aimed at tackling issues associated with productivity increase, value addition and infrastructure deficit.
Ojukwu said the project would also help to catalyse additional financing through innovative methods and ensure enabling environment by the government.
He said, “The idea behind `Feed Africa’, is to reduce the level of imports.
“Africa imports over $35.4bn of food annually and if not checked, in the next ten years it will rise to $110bn 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.”
The director said that it would also encourage and ensure the involvement of women and young people in agriculture.
“All these programmes we are putting together is to ensure that agriculture in Africa is transformed.’’
The Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops (SARD-SC) project of the bank is geared toward enhancing economic growth, food security and nutrition contributing to poverty reduction in Africa.