AfDB introduces FAREC initiative to ensure food security for Africans

*Says COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated volatility in food prices, investment decision-making

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

In its continued efforts at designing an integrated approach to combat the negative impacts of novel Coronavirus pandemic on the continent, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has unveiled a strategic roadmap of projects and programmes to assist African countries in tackling food security and nutrition aspects of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Communications and External Relations Department of AfDB, in a statement Monday, June 8, 2020, said that the Feed Africa Response to COVID-19 (FAREC) had paved the way for a comprehensive intervention to build resilience, sustainability and regional self-sufficiency in Africa’s food systems.

The statement said this would also help farmers to cope with Coronavirus-related disruptions to the agricultural value chain on the African continent.

Dr. Jennifer Blanke, AfDB’s Vice-President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, stated: “The Bank’s response to support the agriculture sector lays out specific measures aimed at addressing challenges faced by African countries across all aspects of the agriculture sector.

“Africa cannot afford a food crisis in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

It was gathered that a report released alongside the roadmap as well recommends immediate, short and medium-term solutions for the agriculture sector.

Such solutions, the report says, include support of food delivery for the most vulnerable; stabilisation of food prices; optimisation of food processing; extension support services, and provision of key agricultural inputs through smart subsidies.”

The Bank will prioritise policy support to enhance movement of inputs and food, to establish food security task forces in countries, and to strengthen the capacity of regional organisations to monitor multi-country initiatives, according to the report.

The Bank also observed that the COVID-19 pandemic had worsened volatility in the prices of food staples and complicated food system actors’ investment decision-making.

It added that the confluence of impacts risks deepening food insecurity and malnutrition, stating that based on the World Food Programme, over 40 million West Africans face food shortages in the coming months.

The report noted that “FAREC forms one part of the Bank’s COVID-19 Response Facility (CRF) of up to 10 billion dollars.

“The CRF is the Bank’s primary channel to deploy financial and technical measures to cushion African economies and livelihoods against the health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic.

“In May, the Bank’s African Development Institute, its focal point for capacity development, hosted a seminar that examined the pandemic’s impacts on Africa’s agri-food systems and offered policy recommendations to make them more resilient and efficient.

Dr. Martin Fregene, Director of the Bank’s Agriculture and Agro-Industry Department in the report stated that “ensuring food security for Africans in all situations is at the core of the Bank’s Feed Africa Strategy.

“Our institution will coordinate its efforts with different stakeholders across the continent to effectively answer the needs of regional member countries.”

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