By Morkporkpor Anku
Accra, Sept. 14, GNA – The Government of Korea and the African Development Bank Group are to strengthen their partnership to support African countries in achieving food security in five years.
It is also to boost the continent’s capability to produce its own vaccines and other pharmaceutical products.
Mr Hwang-keun Chung, Korea’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs speaking during a meeting with Dr Akinwumi Adesina, AfDB President, said there was every reason to believe that Africa would rapidly achieve food sufficiency, and certainly within five years.
The meeting took place at opening of the 7th edition of the KOAFEC Ministerial Conference in Seoul, Republic of Korea.
The KOAFEC conference is to discuss progress on relations between Korea and Africa, development challenges and opportunities in Africa.
AfDB, together with AfricaRice Research Centre, recently launched the US$650 million Regional West Africa Rice Development (REWARD) programme in 16 West African countries.
Under the programme, a million farmers will be involved in cultivating up to 750,000 hectares of land to produce 53 million metric tons of rice in five years.
Mr Chung said Korea, through its K-Ricebelt initiative, was working with eight African countries to produce 10,000 metric tons of rice enough to feed 30 million people.
“The country plans to invest up to US$100 million into the project by 2027,” he said.
Mr Chung indicated that there were plans to invite more African countries to participate in the K-Ricebelt initiative and invest in supporting infrastructure.
“We want to increase participating countries. We will build a seed complex with irrigation facilities and agricultural machinery,” Mr Chung said.
He said, “Korea has highly advanced milling technology and can explore how to deploy it across in Africa.”
Mr Chung said Korea “will review how to work together with the African Development Bank on these initiatives.”
Dr Adesina said the two initiatives, the AfDB’s REWARD and Korea’s K-Ricebelt, should work together across the entire continent and make Africa self-sufficient in rice production in five years.
“We have the technologies, the seed companies, input supply systems that use digital technology for distribution and we also have financing at scale. Let us merge the two initiatives to work under the Bank’s Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) platform,” he adddd.
TAAT was launched in 2018 as part of the Bank’s Feed Africa Strategy to harness proven technologies and raise agricultural productivity across Africa.
Dr Adesina said that while increasing productivity to reduce reliance on food imports, it was important to ensure the quality of locally produced rice must meet that of imports.
He said: “We must also bridge the competitiveness gap by investing in rice processing infrastructure, ensuring zones of production are close to milling plants to reduce transportation cost that end up inflating the price of such commodities.”