The African Development Bank Group has announced a substantial grant of $84.3 million to Ethiopia with the aim of enhancing wheat production and uplifting the incomes of local farmers.
The grant agreement, signed on 2 August 2023, between Ethiopia’s finance minister, Ahmed Shide, and the African Development Bank Group deputy director general for East Africa, Abdul Kamara, paves the way for the implementation of the country’s ground-breaking climate resilient wheat value chain development project (CREW).
Comprising various sources of funding, the grant includes $54 million from the African Development Fund, $20 million from the government of the Netherlands, $10 million from agribusiness firm OCP Africa, and $300 000 from the Global Centre on Adaptation. To ensure a holistic approach, the Ethiopian government will also contribute $10 million in counterpart funding for the project.
The CREW initiative is structured around three primary components: climate smart wheat productivity and production; market infrastructure, linkages and agri-finance; and project coordination and management.
This visionary project is an extension of the successful Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) initiative, pioneered by the African Development Bank Group. By building upon TAAT’s accomplishments, CREW is set to further propel Ethiopia and several other African nations towards agricultural productivity and self-sufficiency.
With a strategic plan spanning five years, CREW is destined to have a far-reaching impact. By focusing on advancing Ethiopia’s wheat self-sufficiency goals, the initiative aims to shield the nation from supply disruptions caused by global crises such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict, as well as challenges posed by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, and rising living costs.
Furthermore, CREW seeks to sustain and expand Ethiopia’s commendable progress in achieving wheat self-sufficiency and export orientation, thereby setting a model for emulation by other African countries.
During the signing ceremony held in Addis Ababa, Abdul Kamara emphasised the significance of the CREW project: “The CREW project will ensure that farmers in Ethiopia can access agricultural inputs to raise local production of wheat such that supply disruptions resulting from the Russia-Ukraine crisis do not worsen the food security situation already made precarious by Covid-19, climate change, and rising cost of living. It also seeks to sustain Ethiopia’s exemplary strides in attaining wheat self-sufficiency and export orientation, a model that other African countries should emulate.”
Kamara further remarked, “The signing of this grant demonstrates the Bank’s unwavering commitment to supporting Ethiopia and its people, and further reaffirms the partnership between the Bank and the government towards achieving Ethiopia’s vision of becoming a lower middle-income country by 2025.”
Echoing Kamara’s sentiment, finance minister Ahmed Shide expressed his gratitude for the Bank’s support, emphasising that the CREW project will accelerate and sustain the government’s wheat self-sufficiency objectives.
Ethiopia, the second-largest wheat producer in sub-Saharan Africa, aims to solidify its position by becoming wheat self-sufficient and a net exporter by 2025/26. The nation has set a formidable target of producing an additional 4.2 million tonnes of irrigated wheat through the application of proven technologies and innovations, including those pioneered by the TAAT initiative.
The $84.3 million grant represents a substantial boost to the African Development Bank Group’s total commitment to Ethiopia, which currently stands at $1.23 billion. This comprehensive investment spans key sectors including basic services, energy, transport, water supply and sanitation, agriculture, and the private sector, underlining the bank’s dedication to Ethiopia’s holistic development.