By Ogova Ondego
Published October 31, 2017
A strategy aimed at helping Africa to become a producer and exporter of agricultural produce has been mooted by the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Africa is expected to produce an additional 513 million tonnes of food and lift nearly 250 million people out of poverty by 2025 through the initiative that is known as Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT).
The project, a collaborative effort of AfDB, World Bank, Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Rockefeller Foundation, intends to mobilise US$1 billion to help scale up technologies across Africa, according to AfDB President and winner of The World Food Prize 2017, Akinwumi Adesina who is rallying support for technologically-driven agriculture across Africa.
Describing TAAT as the “biggest consolidation of efforts to accelerate agriculture technology uptake in Africa,” Dr Adesina says it “was born out of this major consultation and brings together global players in agriculture, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, World Food Programme, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, Rockefeller Foundation and national and regional agricultural research systems.”
The crops of focus in TAAT that Adesina says already has the support of 25 African countries are rice, cassava, pearl millet, sorghum, groundnut, cowpea, livestock, maize, soya bean, yam, cocoa, coffee, cashew, oil palm, horticulture, beans and wheat.
Adesina says TAAT will support AfDB’s Feed Africa Strategy for the continent to eliminate the current massive importation of food; the continent currently spends US$35 billion annually on food importation and this is expected to increase to US$110 billion in 2030.
He explains that TAAT is expected to help break down decades of national boundary-focused seed release systems as seed companies will have regional business investments, not just national ones.
TAAT, Adesina says, shall be implemented through a collectively agreed central delivery platform, coordinated by the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, with national, regional and international agricultural research centres.
Haleh Bridi, Director of External Communications in the African Region of the World Bank Group, describes TAAT as a regional technology delivery infrastructure for agriculture that links countries across agro-ecological zones.
“What TAAT is going to have to do is work with the governments. We have lots of institutions that are ready for these technologies. We should work with governments to ensure that the technologies are not just ready to work, but become available to their country people. I think that ensuring that the farmers get all the technologies they need is going to be very important,” says Agnes Kalibata, President of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
Kalibata stresses that African governments should drive technological development in agriculture.