To avert potential food shortages arising from Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the African Development Bank or AfDB has announced a $1 billion plan to boost wheat production in Africa.
The president of AfDB, Akinwumi Adesina, said the multilateral development finance institution 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.
He noted that 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.
"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," Adesina said.
With the war in Ukraine and sanctions imposed on Russia by the US, the UK and the European Union, grain shipments have been hindered at a time when global stockpiles were already tight. This development is raising the risk of a full-blown hunger crisis, especially in Africa, where 283 million people were already going hungry before the onset of the war, says Adesina.
In a recent report, the United Nations warned that global food prices could surge another 22% in response to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Qu Dongyu, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, said, "Russia and Ukraine play a substantial role in the global food production and supply. Russia is the world's largest exporter of wheat, and Ukraine is the fifth largest. Together, they provide 19% of the world's barley supply, 14% of wheat, and 4% of maize, making up more than one-third of global cereal exports."
Dongyu added: "This is especially true for some fifty countries that depend on Russia and Ukraine for 30% or more of their wheat supply."