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AfDB unveil $1bn plan to reduce Africa’s dependency on Russian wheat

The African Development Bank has announced a $1 billion plan to boost wheat production in Africa to avert potential food shortages arising from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

According to the head of the continent’s biggest multilateral lender, Akinwumi Adesina, AfDB  is raising the funds to help 40 million African farmers utilize climate-resilient technologies and increase their output of heat-tolerant wheat varieties and other crops. 

Wheat imports account for about 90% of Africa’s $4 billion trade with Russia and nearly half of the continent’s $4.5 billion trade with Ukraine.

He said: “We are going to be really ramping up our efforts to mobilize that money…If there was ever a time that we needed to really drastically raise food production in Africa, for Africa’s food security and to mitigate the impact of this food crisis arising from this war, it is now.”

The war in Ukraine and sweeping sanctions imposed on Russia have upended grain shipments at a time when global stockpiles were already tight, raising the risk of a full-blown hunger crisis.

Together the two nations produce more than a quarter of global wheat exports, and the United Nations has warned that already high food costs could surge another 22% as the fighting stifles trade and cuts future production

The risks are particularly acute in Africa, where the Adesina says about 283 million people were already going hungry before the onset of the war.

The lender’s plan aims to increase the production of wheat, rice, soybeans and other crops to feed about 200 million Africans. Adesina is planning a meeting of the continent’s finance and agriculture ministers to discuss how best to finance it.

New methods have already helped Ethiopia raise its wheat production and it now expects to be self-sufficient in supplying the grain within three years, according to Adesina. Surplus production could then be exported to countries like Egypt, the world’s top wheat importer, he said.

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