Norway’s Minister of International Development Anne Beathe Tvinnereim announced NOK 100 million (US$9.5 million) in new funding for the African Development Bank’s (AFDB) Africa Emergency Food Production Facility at the 2022 Global Citizen Festival on Sept. 24 via video message.
The funding will help farmers across the continent secure crucial resources like fertilizer, while promoting gender equity and youth employment in agriculture, as well as making food more affordable for families. It comes at an especially critical time, as communities across the continent struggle with rising food prices, the impacts of climate change, and the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. It could also spur additional investments by other countries in the months ahead.
“Africa could be the world’s breadbasket,” Tvinnereim said in a video for Global Citizen. “Instead, it imports food for more than $40 billion every year. That is $40 billion that could be spent on schools, roads, and hospitals.
“It’s time to reverse this trend,” she said.
In a recent open letter to African leaders, Global Citizen and various African artists, actors, and activists noted that 1 in 5 people across the continent experienced malnutrition in 2021, a rate that increased over the past year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Both Russia and Ukraine are major exporters of food and fertilizers, and the disruptions of the conflict have caused food shortages and dramatic price increases worldwide.
African farmers have also been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing climate impacts, interconnected events that have reduced their harvests, cut into their livelihoods, and inhibited their ability to invest in food production.
After months of blocked ports, the United Nations helped to broker the release of tens of thousands of metric tons of grain from Ukraine in early August for an initial shipment that will support countries in need.
This is a step in the right direction but far more needs to be done to ensure future food security and curb hunger rates. That’s where programs like the Emergency Food Production Facility come in — with extensive networks in affected communities, the AFDB will be able to quickly deliver resources where they’re needed most and support farmers as they transition to climate-resilient forms of farming.
The bank is mobilizing more than $1.5 billion to provide 20 million smallholder farmers with resilient seeds varieties and fertilizer to produce 38 million tons of food, while supporting the next generation of farmers.
As Tvinnereim said, Africa has the potential to become a net exporter of food. Farmers and farming communities just need funding and resource support.
“The solution lies in Africa’s fields, farms, lakes, and oceans,” she said in the video. “The African continent must feed itself. And together we can put an end to hunger.”
Global Citizen Festival in Accra and New York featured 10 hours of live performances, activism, and announcements made by the public, private, and philanthropic sectors. On Sept. 24, the event culminated in US$2.4 billion to end extreme poverty, with more than US$440 billion earmarked exclusively to initiatives to end extreme poverty in Africa. More than $800 million was announced to end extreme poverty NOW and $1.6 billion was announced by the European Commission and Canada as part of the seventh replenishment of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria on Sept. 21, in addition to the announcement of five companies signing on to the UN-led Race to Zero initiative to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.