- Zimbabwe had delivered a record amount of grain—nearly 327 000t—to the Grain Marketing Board of that nation
- Ukraine intends to provide food to at least five million individuals on the African continent through the spring of 2023
- Zimbabwe attempted to assure national self-sufficiency by planting a record 80 885 ha to the crop this season
Ironically, despite being engaged in a conflict, Russia and Ukraine are still able to provide agricultural assistance to African nations. This article will emphasize how African nations should strive for self-sufficiency and not rely entirely on aid.
The Grain From Ukraine program will send at least 60 ships loaded with grain to drought-stricken African nations, according to the country's foreign minister. The greatest drought in forty years is currently occurring in the Horn of Africa. One of the ten components of President Zelenskyi's peace plan for Ukraine, which was presented at the G20 conference this month, is food security. Ukraine and others in Europe, Africa, Asia, and beyond have been severely impacted by Russia's conflict.
As part of this humanitarian initiative, Ukraine intends to provide food to at least five million individuals on the African continent through the spring of 2023. According to Ukraine officials, this will be achieved by the shipment of 1 to 10 ships every month during 2023. According to the minister, Ukraine finances this project by inviting partners to join the program and allocating funds to buy ships filled with Ukrainian grain, which are then sent for free to the world's most disadvantaged populations and nations. Together with the UN World Food Program, the system will operate. Despite the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, Ukraine nevertheless plays a significant part in ensuring global food security.
In addition, 20,000 metric tons of fertilizer made in Russia were shipped from the Netherlands to Malawi as part of a pact mediated by the United Nations to maintain agricultural products flowing to international markets despite an ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The delivery is a portion of a donation from Russia, one of the leading producers of nitrogen-based fertilizers worldwide, of more than a quarter million metric tons of fertilizer held in European ports. International economists and humanitarian organizations who keep an eye on exports of important commodities like grain to market-vulnerable regions in the Middle East and North Africa are particularly concerned about the agricultural effects of the conflict in Ukraine.
By November 25, wheat growers in Zimbabwe had delivered a record amount of grain—nearly 327 000t—to the Grain Marketing Board of that nation. A total of 380 000t of wheat was anticipated for the season, which was five times the amount produced in 2021. This is a fantastic indication that Zimbabwe will play a significant role in maximizing Africa's potential for food security.
Since that nation's commercial wheat production started in the 1960s, this 2022 harvest was the greatest. 325 000 t was the previous record-high wheat harvest, set in 1990. Zimbabwe attempted to ensure national self-sufficiency by planting a record 80 885 ha to the crop this season. According to Gerald Macheka, an economist at Equity AXIS, Zimbabwe's dependency on wheat imports will be reduced as a result of this record harvest bumper, which will also save the country's foreign currency.
The most significant staple food in Zimbabwe was wheat, which was consumed in the form of bread and white maize. This bumper wheat crop could be attributed to the fact that the majority of wheat was grown entirely under irrigation during the winter, despite the government recently reporting that close to 4000hacters of wheat had been damaged by heavy rainfall, with the most extensive damage reported in the Mashonaland West province.
The wheat news is positive for the nation's farming stakeholders, but there is still a problem. According to a statement made by the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) earlier in the year, Zimbabwe will import around 400,000 tonnes of white maize from Zambia and Malawi this year. Food insecurity has been a problem in the nation for many years. Zimbabwe has also had numerous droughts over the years, and as temperatures rise due to climate change, the situation is anticipated to get worse.
Africa should be self-sufficient
The longest drought to hit Africa in more than 40 years has left 80 million people in the Horn of Africa without reliable access to basic nutrition. Since the continent has the lowest agricultural production of any region and the greatest population expansion, food security in Africa is under pressure from two sides. The reality that millions of smallholder farmers lack access to the fundamental tools and knowledge that could enable them to move beyond subsistence is reflected in the fact that yields of everything from wheat to rice to cassava are significantly below the global average.
The immediate future is dismal. Extreme weather conditions, regional conflicts, and economic instability are all escalating the food crisis. Additionally, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia has increased food, gasoline, and fertilizer prices globally, making it harder for African nations to finance necessary imports. Despite this, there is still a huge unrealized opportunity to improve food security in Africa. The economic argument is strong for taking action. A 10x return on investment has been demonstrated for investments in agricultural advances.
Farms all over Africa may raise output and develop long-term resilience by implementing agricultural solutions that are known to increase productivity, such as better seeds and fertilizers, early warning systems, and training for growers. However, there is a short window for action and a pressing need to bring about change. African countries must stop depending on aid for their growth, invest heavily in agricultural research and development, and, in the short term, prioritize the initiatives that have the best chance of boosting agricultural productivity both immediately and sustainably. To tackle the demographic difficulties in the upcoming years, this is crucial. It is encouraging to see how well-known African institutions are collaborating today to make this productivity increases a reality.
Role of the AFDB and AU
The largest agricultural research and innovation network in the world, CGIAR, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Union, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa, and other organizations recently pledged to work closely together to advance African agriculture. It's good to hear this.
The goal is straightforward, but the reward is enormous: to support African farmers so they can better feed their communities. Deploying tested technologies at a scale of tens of millions of farmers is the top focus right now. It is a target that is attainable. For instance, the CGIAR and African Development Bank-backed Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) program have provided 12 million farmers in 27 countries with climate-smart seeds over the past three years. A variety of transformational innovations, including increases in soil fertility and improved livestock management, are required to assure Africa's future food security. Breeding better crop varieties are just one of these innovations.
Further study is necessary to increase resilience to upcoming shocks and is necessary for any comprehensive solution. Africa may achieve improvements in agricultural growth and food security equal to those seen in Asia and Latin America by utilizing the resources of the CGIAR network of research institutions, which profit from the support and collaboration of their host nations in Africa and elsewhere.
The organization is better positioned to address the increasingly complex and linked issues of food security and provide comprehensive solutions to smallholder farmers everywhere thanks to the shift to a more unified and integrated "One CGIAR." Smallholder farmers in Africa will, in my opinion, gain the most from an integrated CGIAR that collaborates with local institutes of research and innovation. I, therefore, support the appeal from CGIAR's country, regional, and financial constituents for CGIAR Centers and other parties to ratify in December a deal that puts the integration on a clear road forward, along with AfDB President Dr Akin Adesina and other African stakeholders and partners.
Unfortunately, the world is not on course to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal of ending world hunger by 2030, and people in Africa will suffer the most as a result of this failed policy. This makes it even more important to use tried-and-true technology that can drastically improve the lives of African farmers right now while continuing to make crucial investments in research that will make them resilient to shocks in the future. The time is now for African decision-makers to make the wise investments required to deliver suitable technologies to their farmers on a large scale. The fact that autonomous nations like their own in Africa with favourable meteorological conditions are dependent on Russia and Ukraine, who are engaged in a truly foolish conflict, should embarrass African leaders.