AfDB, Korea Government Targets 2028 for Africa’s Food Security

AfDB, Korea Government Targets 2028 for Africa’s Food Security

Gilbert Ekugbe

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Government of Korea have announced partnership to support African countries achieve food security in the next five years.

According to a statement obtained from AfDB’s website, Korea’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Hwang-keun Chung, and African Development Bank Group President Dr Akinwumi Adesina during a meeting said there was every reason to believe that Africa would rapidly achieve food sufficiency, and certainly within five years.

In the same vein, AfDB together with AfricaRice research centre, recently launched the US$650 million Regional West Africa Rice Development (REWARD) programme in 16 West African countries with plans to reach a million farmers to cultivate up to 750,000 hectares of land to produce 53 million metric tonnes of rice in five years.

Chung said Korea, through its K-Ricebelt initiative is working with eight African countries to produce 10,000 metric tonnes of rice which is enough to feed 30 million people. 

“The country plans to invest up to US$100 million into the project by 2027,” he said.

Adesina said the two initiatives, the African Development Bank’s REWARD and Korea’s K-Ricebelt, should work together across the entire continent and make Africa self-sufficient in rice production in five years.

“We have the technologies, the seed companies, input supply systems that use digital technology for distribution and we also have financing at scale. Let us merge the two initiatives to work under the Bank’s Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) platform,” the African Development Bank chief said. 

TAAT was launched in 2018 as part of the Bank’s Feed Africa Strategy to harness proven technologies and raise agricultural productivity across Africa.

Adesina said that while increasing productivity to reduce reliance on food imports, it was important to ensure the quality of locally produced rice must meet that of imports.

He said: “We must also bridge the competitiveness gap by investing in rice processing infrastructure, ensuring zones of production are close to milling plants to reduce transportation cost that end up inflating the price of such commodities.”

Chung indicated that there were plans to invite more African countries to participate in the K-Ricebelt initiative and invest in supporting infrastructure.

“We want to increase participating countries. We will build a seed complex with irrigation facilities and agricultural machinery,” Chung said. He added: “Korea has highly advanced milling technology and can explore how to deploy it across in Africa.”

Chung said Korea “will review how to work together with the African Development Bank on these initiatives.”

Earlier, the African Development Bank President met with Minister for Health and Welfare Kyoo Hong Cho as they discussed Africa’s ongoing efforts to strengthen its capability to manufacture vaccines and other pharmaceutical products.

Adesina said Africa had learned a vital lesson from the Covid-19 pandemic. “The continent was caught unprepared,” he said, adding: “It could not readily manufacture its own sanitisers and protective equipment. We cannot continue to outsource the health of Africans to the benevolence of others.”

The Bank president asked Korea to support the Africa Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, which it had initiated. He explained that it was established in 2022 to act as a transparent intermediate, advancing and brokering the interests of the African pharmaceutical sector with global and other Southern pharmaceutical companies to share intellectual-property-protected technologies, know-how and patented processes.

Minister Cho said he was impressed by the Bank’s effort to strengthen local capability production of vaccines and other pharmaceuticals.

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