Farmer's Weekly (South Africa)

US treasury secretary calls for beefing up of Africa’s food systems

- – Staff reporter

During a recent visit to Zambia, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said there was an urgent need to scale up efforts to make Africa more food secure. According to her, agricultur­e on the continent faced the costly blow of disruption­s from climate change, regional conflicts, the residual effects of COVID-19, and increases in the prices of key farming inputs.

Yellen said it was important for the world to take a longterm view in its efforts to assist Africa, where millions are facing food insecurity.

“Africa has the potential not only to feed itself but also to help feed the world if the right steps are taken.

“Africa’s long-term strategy to address food security requires developing its infrastruc­ture and logistics capabiliti­es.

The continent needs a robust capacity not only to grow food, but to make sure it can be cultivated, stored and efficientl­y transporte­d,” Yellen said at a Green Climate Fund site visit in Lusaka.

She added that “global food systems have been strained for some time by climate change, regional conflicts, and COVID-19’s economic disruption­s. Nowhere has this been more apparent than in Africa”.

Yellen said that in December, during the Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, US President Joe Biden had met with African heads of state to discuss “how we can redouble our efforts to strengthen food security”.

Biden’s administra­tion was working with internatio­nal financial institutio­ns “to surge and scale” their food security efforts, and last April, she had convened a “call to action” with the heads of these institutio­ns and representa­tives from the G7 and G20 to spur coordinate­d global action.

Yellen said the World Bank was implementi­ng up to US$30 billion (about R510 billion) in projects to respond to the food security crisis. The African Developmen­t Bank, on the other hand, continued to advance a US$1,5 billion (R25,5 billion) facility to address the food crisis in Africa.

“This facility is projected to benefit 20 million African smallholde­r farmers. With new seeds and fertiliser, these farmers will be better prepared to rapidly produce up to 38 million tons of wheat, maize, rice and soya bean to meet the demands of the continent,” Yellen said.

The US was also advancing climate adaptation through its latest US$155 million (R2,6 billion) contributi­on to the Global Agricultur­e and Food Security Program, according to Yellen.

“We must take urgent action to adapt agricultur­al practices and technology to the changing climate,” she said.

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