Africa is not winning the war to end hunger, says African Development Bank (AfDB) group president Dr Akinwumi Adesina.
And Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced that Japan, through the Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) and the Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA), will help double Africa’s rice production by 2030.
Meanwhile, Japan and the AfDB have announced a joint-target of US $3.5 billion under the Enhanced Private Sector Assistance for Africa initiative (EPSA 4) to spur private-sector-led sustainable and inclusive growth in Africa.
In a keynote address during the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 7), Dr Adesina bemoaned that Africa was not winning the global fight to end hunger despite the several advancements and innovations made in the agricultural sector to narrow the food gap.
He, therefore, called for urgent and concerted efforts to end hunger.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation’s (FAO) 2019 State of Food and Security, the number of hungry people, globally, stands at a disconcerting 821 million.
Africa alone accounts for 31 per cent of the global number of hungry people, translating to around 251 million people.
“In spite of all the gains made in agriculture, we are not winning the global war against hunger. We must all arise collectively and end global hunger. To do that, we must end hunger in Africa. Hunger diminishes our humanity,” Dr Adesina said in a statement released by the AfDB.
He expressed confidence in the ability of technology to deliver substantial benefits in agriculture.
To accelerate Africa’s agricultural growth, the AfDB launched the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) to deliver new technologies to millions of farmers.
“TAAT has become a game-changer, and is already delivering impressive results,” Dr Adesina, a former Nigerian Agriculture Minister, added.
Working with 30 private seed companies, the TAAT maize compact produced over 27,000 tonnes of seeds of water efficient maize that was planted by 1.6 million farmers.
And Prime Minister Abe announced that his country, through JICA and the SAA, will help double Africa’s rice production by 2030.
The SAA is a Tokyo-based NGO, whose mission is to empower farmers, specifically small-holders, to sustainably increase productivity in response to market demand.
Between 1986 and 2003, the Sasakawa Association in Africa operated in a total of 15 countries including Ghana, Sudan, Nigeria and Zambia, among others.
According to Prime Minister Abe, the Sasakawa Association will work with JICA to help double rice production to 50 million tonnes by 2030.
The Japanese Prime Minister made the announcement at the SAA symposium held last Wednesday during the TICAD 7.
“Japanese technology can play a key role in innovation, which is key to agriculture,” Prime Minister Abe told delegates.
Meanwhile, Japan and the AfDB announced a joint-target of US $3.5 billion under the EPSA 4 to spur private-sector-led sustainable and inclusive growth in Africa.
Japan’s State Minister of Finance Keisuke Suzuki said at the EPSA 4 launch ceremony held in Yokohama that both his country and the AfDB decided to upgrade the EPSA to meet the financial needs for infrastructure development in Africa.
“Building on the successful achievements so far, Japan and the Bank have decided to upgrade EPSA in both quality and quantity to meet financial needs for infrastructure development as well as for the private sector development in Africa,” said Suzuki at the EPSA 4 launch ceremony attended by government officials and a high-level delegation from the Bank as well as representations of the business community.
“I wish that the new EPSA initiative will lead to business, investment promotion, and job creation in Africa.”
During EPSA 1 (2005-2011), Japan set the target of providing US $1 billion in loans and US $2 billion under the second phase (2012-2016).
The ongoing EPSA 3 (2017-2019), Japan and the AfDB are cooperating closely to provide the targeted joint-amount of US $3 billion.
Both Japan and the AfDB have set a target of US $1.75 billion each, from 2020-2022, to enhance the fourth phase of EPSA to spur private-sector-led sustainable and inclusive growth in Africa.