The African Development Bank (AfDB) has disclosed that it is
currently working with the World Bank, the Alliance for a Green
Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
to mobilize $1 billion to scale up agricultural technologies across
Africa under a new initiative called Technologies for African
Agricultural Transformation (TAAT).
Akinwumi Adesina, AfDB president, made the disclosure during a
keynote speech delivered at the 2018 Agricultural and Applied Economics
Association (AAEA) Annual Meeting held in Washington, D.C.
He said TAAT is taking bold steps to bring down some of the barriers
preventing farmers from accessing latest seed varieties and technologies
to improve their productivity.
“With the rapid pace of growth of the use of drones, automated
tractors, artificial intelligence, robotics and block chains,
agriculture as we know it today will change,” he said, adding, “It is
more likely that the future farmers will be sitting in their homes with
computer applications using drone to determine the size of their farms,
monitor and guide the applications of farm inputs, and with driverless
combine harvesters bringing in the harvest.”
Adesina specifically sue that farmers across the continent be given
new technologies with the potential to transform agricultural
He said technology transfer was needed immediately and that evidence
from countries like Nigeria demonstrated that technology plus strong
government backing would always yield positive results.
”Technologies to achieve Africa’s green revolution exist, but are
mostly just sitting on the shelves. The challenge is a lack of
supportive policies to ensure that they are scaled up to reach millions
of farmers,” Adesina said
Adesina cited the case of Nigeria, where policy during his tenure as
the country’s minister of agriculture, resulted in a rice production
revolution in three years.
“All it took was sheer political will, supported by science,
technology and pragmatic policies…Just like in the case of rice, the
same can be said of a myriad of technologies, including high-yielding
water efficient maize, high-yielding cassava varieties, animal and
fisheries technologies,” Adesina said.
Adesina used the opportunity to advocate for African universities to
adapt their curriculum to enable technology-driven farmers and to focus
on agribusiness entrepreneurship for young people, emphasizing the need
to rise beyond theories to application.
Through its innovative Enable Youth initiative, the African
Development Bank has in the past two years committed close to US$ 300
million to develop the next generation of agribusiness and commercial
farmers for Africa.
Adesina stressed the Bank’s resolve to change the face of agriculture in Africa to unleash new sources of wealth.
AAEA President Scott Swinton said Adesina and the African Development
Bank exemplify the use of economics that makes a difference in people’s
“If applied economics is economics that make a difference, I think
that there is no better example of someone who has used that than
Akinwumi Adesina,” Swindon said.
Adesina told delegates at the 2018 conference attended by over 1,600
agricultural and applied economists from around the world: “There is no
reason why Africa should be spending US$ 35 billion a year importing
food. All it needs to do is to harness the available technologies with
the right policies and rapidly raise agricultural productivity and
incomes for farmers, and assure lower food prices for consumers.”
The AfDB president who was the 2017 World Food Prize winner, is
advocating for the creation of staple crops processing zones across
Africa (SCPZs): vast areas within rural areas set aside and managed for
agribusiness and food manufacturing industries and other agro-allied
industries, enabled with right policies and infrastructure.
“I am convinced that just like industrial parks helped China, so will
the SCPZs help to create new economic zones in rural areas that will
help lift hundreds of millions out of poverty through the transformation
of agriculture- the main source of their livelihoods- from a way of
life into a viable profitable business that will unleash new sources of
wealth,” he said.
The African Development Bank has already begun investing in the
development of processing zones in a number of African countries,
including Ethiopia, Togo, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Mozambique,
with a plan to reach 15 countries in a few years. To help Africa
transform its agriculture, the Bank is investing US$ 24 billion over the
next ten years to implement its Feed Africa Strategy.