The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Korean government have announced a partnership to help African countries achieve food security over the next five years.
According to a statement obtained from the AfDB website, Korean Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Hwang-keun Chung and African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina , told a meeting that there was every reason to believe that Africa would quickly achieve food sufficiency. and certainly within five years.
In the same spirit, the AfDB and the AfricaRice Research Center recently launched the US$650 million Regional Rice Development in West Africa (REWARD) program in 16 West African countries, with intends to help one million farmers cultivate up to 750,000 hectares of land to produce 53 million tonnes of rice in five years.
Chung said Korea, through its K-Ricebelt initiative, is working with eight African countries to produce 10,000 tons of rice, enough to feed 30 million people.
“The country plans to invest up to $100 million in the project by 2027,” he said.
Adesina said the two initiatives, the African Development Bank’s REWARD and Korea’s K-Ricebelt, are expected to work together across the continent and make Africa self-sufficient in rice production within five years.
“We have the technologies, the seed companies, the input supply systems that use digital technology for distribution and we also have large-scale financing. Let us merge the two initiatives to work under the Bank’s Technologies for Agricultural Transformation in Africa (TAAT) platform,” said the African Development Bank chief.
TAAT was launched in 2018 as part of the Bank’s Feed Africa strategy to harness proven technologies and increase agricultural productivity across Africa.
Adesina said while increasing productivity to reduce dependence on food imports, it was important to ensure that the quality of locally produced rice matched that of imports.
He said: “We also need to close the competitiveness gap by investing in rice processing infrastructure, ensuring that production areas are close to processing plants to reduce transport costs which end up inflating the price of these products. »
Chung said there are plans to invite more African countries to participate in the K-Ricebelt initiative and invest in supporting infrastructure.
“We want to increase the number of participating countries. We will build a seed complex with irrigation facilities and agricultural machinery,” Chung said. He added: “Korea has very advanced grinding technology and can explore how to deploy it in Africa. »
Chung said Korea will “examine how to work with the African Development Bank on these initiatives.”
Earlier, the President of the African Development Bank met with Minister of Health and Social Affairs Kyoo Hong Cho to discuss Africa’s ongoing efforts to strengthen its capacity to manufacture vaccines and other products pharmaceuticals.
Adesina said Africa had learned a vital lesson from the Covid-19 pandemic. “The continent was caught off guard,” he said, adding: “It could not easily make its own disinfectants and protective equipment. We cannot continue to outsource the health of Africans to the goodwill of others.
The Bank President asked Korea to support the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, which it established. He explained that it was established in 2022 to act as a transparent intermediary, advancing and negotiating the interests of the African pharmaceutical sector with global and Southern pharmaceutical companies to share protected patented technologies, know-how and processes. by intellectual property.
Minister Cho said he was impressed by the Bank’s efforts to strengthen local capacity for the production of vaccines and other pharmaceutical products.