United States, AfDB Forge Stronger Ties Boosting Food Production

During a visit to the headquarters of AfricaRice in Abidjan on Tuesday, United States(US) Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed optimism as he lauded efforts shown by the African Development Bank(AfDB) Group in facilitating self-sufficiency in food production for Africa and its potential role in the global food supply.

President of the African Development Bank Group, Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, welcomed Secretary Blinken, acknowledging the historic significance of his visit as the first by a U.S. Secretary of State to the African Development Bank. He further commended Secretary Blinken’s leadership and dedication to food security, emphasizing their collaborative efforts to advance initiatives supporting Africa in achieving food self-sufficiency and contributing to global food security.

The United States holds a significant position as the second-largest shareholder among all African Development Bank member countries and the largest contributor cumulatively to the African Development Fund. The visit underscored the sustainable impact of U.S. investments aligning with shared priorities in Africa.

According to Secretary Blinken, as evidenced, extraordinary work is being done to establish a scenario where Africa can sustain itself and contribute significantly to global food production vouching for his confidence in the achievability of this goal.

Dr. Adesina highlighted the partnership with the U.S. Government and expressed delight at the new grant of $9.5 million to bolster the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation initiative (TAAT). This grant, part of the broader U.S. “Feed the Future” global hunger initiative, will aid the second phase of TAAT (TAAT II), facilitating increased food production, introduction of climate-smart technologies, and expansion of extension services in African countries.

Furthermore, Dr. Adesina acknowledged the collaboration with the United States in identifying opportunities to partner with the U.S. State Department’s Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils (VACS) activities and develop an investment strategy.

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Speaking to the press, Secretary Blinken said the Biden administration was convinced that there is tremendous potential in investing in the production of crops that are climate-resilient and highly nutritious

TAAT aims to double the productivity of staple crops, livestock, and fisheries, making proven technologies accessible to over 40 million agricultural producers by 2025. This initiative is expected to generate an additional 120 million tons of food.

Secretary Blinken praised the African Development Bank’s strategic investments in sustainable production, particularly in the context of climate change. He commended Dr. Adesina’s global leadership and the impactful initiatives undertaken by the Bank.

Beyond staple crops like rice, United States Secretary Blinken highlighted the Biden administration’s belief in the potential of investing in climate-resilient and highly nutritious crops, including neglected traditional foods in Africa.

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Bumper harvest: A local rice farmer (right) shows African Development Bank Group President Akinwumi Adesina rice varieties grown from climate-resilient seeds from the Bank’s TAAT initiative during a visit to AfricaRice’s headquarters in Abidjan

The AfricaRice initiative, launched in 2018 to enhance rice production, currently has 28 country members across Africa, with 15 on track to achieve rice self-sufficiency shortly. AfricaRice Director General Dr. Baboucarr Manneh, who participated in the visit, reported a 25% increase in rice yields and over 31% improvement in livelihoods since 2018.

Additionally, the collaborative efforts between the Bank and the United States Government were emphasized, particularly in areas such as food security, agricultural transformation, and infrastructure development through initiatives like the Lobito Corridor, where the Bank has committed $500 million in support. The African Development Bank Group operates based on five strategic priorities: Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa, Light up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

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