The African Development Bank (AfDB) has unveiled a strategic roadmap of projects and programmes to assist African countries in tackling the nutrition and food security aspects of the Covid-19 crisis.
The Feed Africa Response to Covid-19 (Farec) paves the way for a comprehensive intervention to build resilience, sustainability and regional self-sufficiency in Africa’s food systems and help farmers cope with Covid-19-related disruptions to the agricultural value chain.
AfDB agriculture, human and social development VP Dr Jennifer Blanke says the bank’s response to support the agriculture sector lays out specific measures aimed at addressing challenges faced by African countries across all aspects of the agriculture sector.
“Africa cannot afford a food crisis in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic,” she stresses.
A report released alongside the roadmap recommends immediate, short- and medium-term solutions for the agriculture sector including support of food delivery for the most vulnerable, stabilisation of food prices, enhancement of food processing, extension support services and provision of key agricultural inputs through smart subsidies.
According to the World Food Programme, over 40-million West Africans face food shortages in the coming months.
The AfDB will prioritise policy support to enhance the movement of inputs and food, establish food security task forces in countries, and strengthen the capacity of regional organisations to monitor multicountry initiatives.
The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened volatility in the price of food staples and complicated food system actors’ investment decision-making. The confluence of impacts risks deepening food insecurity and malnutrition, states the AfDB.
Farec is one part of the AfDB’s Covid-19 Response Facility (CRF) of up to $10-billion. The CRF is the bank’s primary channel to deploy financial and technical measures to cushion African economies and livelihoods against the health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic.
In May, the AfDB’s African Development Institute, its focal point for capacity development, hosted a seminar that examined the pandemic’s impacts on Africa’s agri-food systems and offered policy recommendations to make them more resilient and efficient.
AfDB agriculture and agro-industry department director Dr Martin Fregene says ensuring food security for Africans in all situations is at the core of Farec.
“Our institution will coordinate its efforts with different stakeholders across the continent to effectively answer the needs of regional member countries,” he adds.