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COVID-19: AfDB to Champion Agric Sector Recovery

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has said it is collaborating with African governments to attain sustainable food security through its Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT).

The Bank’s Vice President, Wambui Gichuri, stated this as the bank commemorated the World Food Day.

According to her, investment in African agricultural ecosystems has become imperative, following the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic. She also decried the spate of food importation in Africa, pegging the cost at over $75 billion.

In Wambui’s remarks, the Bank has geared efforts to reverse the trend, through the TAAT and Feed Africa projects which aims to support African governments in their quest to attain food security, by expanding their capacity to grow more nutritious food.

The VP asserted that the bank would be working with all stakeholders- seed companies, farmer groups, regional economic commissions and researchers, to champion this cause.

Under the TAAT project, no fewer than 40 million farmers have been targeted to benefit from seeds and fingerlings input, she added.

“Feed Africa aims to build robust food systems. For example, our Feed Africa Response to COVID-19, or FAREC, is supporting our regional member countries with a range of investment options designed to stabilize food systems and minimise disruptions to the delivery and accessibility of nutritious food in the short term, as well as build more sustainable, healthy diet-oriented food systems in the longer term.

“The bank’s Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation, or TAAT, is working with developers of food production technologies, seed companies, farmer groups, regional economic commissions and researchers to more efficiently deliver certified seeds, breeds and young fish (fingerlings) to 40 million farmers.

“To date, TAAT-funded programmes have produced 65,000 metric tonnes of heat-tolerant, certified wheat seeds in Ethiopia that resulted in higher-producing, higher quality wheat harvests in areas that were once inhospitable to the grain.

“Similarly, TAAT has helped produce 27,000 metric tonnes of certified drought-tolerant maize seed for distribution to farmers in Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. Virtually all African nations have been affected by COVID-19.

“During this pandemic, we must emphasize advocacy and economic sector work related to agriculture, nutrition and building back food systems.”

The VP further noted that it was imperative to implement lessons learnt from the pandemic, to ensure a good post-pandemic comeback, for the sector.

Reacting to the focus of the governments on COVID-19 emergency responses, Wambui said

“However, we can maintain the momentum around nutrition and food systems awareness by leveraging the lessons learned from the coronavirus era to conduct analytical work and knowledge sharing.

“This is also an opportune time to carry out policy research to implement bolder programmes as we “build back better” from COVID-19.

“Post pandemic, resilience is key. Our priorities to build food systems that deliver safe, affordable, nutritious food and diets include support to the capacity of smallholder farmers and agro-input providers to enhance productivity; promotion of enterprise development and digital technology; and building up key quality infrastructure that focuses on public-private partnerships financing and support for government-led connectivity programs”.

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