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Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation is Doubling Farmers’ Yields

The African Development Bank-funded Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation programme (TAAT) has set the ambitious target of reaching 40 million farmers in the next five years and adding 120 million metric tons of additional foodstuffs in the African food basket, valued between US$1.5 billion to $2.8 billion.

Since its launch in 2018, TAAT has started implementation in 28 countries and 4 more are in the process of joining the programme.

The overall goal of TAAT is to radically transform African agriculture into a competitive sector by deploying high-impact, proven agricultural technologies to raise agricultural productivity in Africa; mitigate risks and promote diversification and processing in 18 agricultural value chains within eight priority intervention areas, namely:

  • Self-sufficiency in Rice Production
  • Cassava Intensification
  • Food and Nutrition Security in the Sahel
  • Transforming African Savannahs into Breadbaskets
  • Revitalizing Tree Plantations
  • Expanding Horticulture
  • Increasing Africa’s Wheat Production
  • Achieving Self-sufficiency in Inland Fish Production

Within two years, TAAT has recorded successes in bringing the latest technologies to African farmers at scale – enabling them to increase yields and improve their livelihoods.

Success stories

In Ethiopia, TAAT funds are providing 28,000 farmers with seed that can withstand the lowlands’ high temperatures. It’s part of an Ethiopian government program to expand wheat production into 400,000 lowland irrigated areas. TAAT also aims to scale up heat-tolerant wheat production tenfold, producing up to a million tons of wheat, creating 220,000 jobs and doubling farmer incomes.

In Zambia, where the fall armyworm is threatening food supplies and farmers’ incomes, the Bank is working with the Zambian government, seed companies and community leaders to distribute pesticide-treated and drought-tolerant wheat, maize and sorghum to farmers. All crop varieties have the potential to triple crop yields —compared to ordinary varieties— if managed well and by using fertilizers. The anti-fall armyworm efforts have become so successful that Zambian authorities are making TAAT-funding a line item in the budget for Zambia’s Food Input Subsidy Program. Since 2018, TAAT has provided Zambia with more than 28,000 liters of chemical used to treat close to five-thousand tons of seed that resists Fall Armyworm infestation. Almost half-a-million Zambian farmers have benefited from the treated seed.

In Zimbabwe, where some 70% of Zimbabweans rely on agriculture —a sector that contracted last year due to drought, a cyclone and pest infestation— TAAT has paid for the fall armyworm pesticides used to treat 1,655 tons of drought-tolerant maize seeds. Since 2018, more than 165,500 smallholder farmers benefited from the treated seed. Zimbabwe intends to leverage TAAT to reach more farmers, as well as drive public private partnerships and attract anchor investment.

In Sudan, TAAT has trained more than 1,400 farmers and stakeholders —almost half of them women and youth, whose wheat yield increased from 2.5 tonnes to 5 tonnes per hectare. The initiative has also increased Sudan’s wheat growing area. TAAT is partnering with the private sector to produce 45,000 tonnes of seed – enough to cover all of Sudan’s targeted wheat production areas with high yielding, heat-tolerant wheat.

Background

Agriculture is a key source of livelihood for millions of Africans. However, the sector is yet to prove its mettle in a region that is blessed with the highest area of arable uncultivated land in the world and huge agricultural growth potential.

Despite huge agricultural potential, African countries are yet to reap multiple benefits from it, experiencing one of the highest prevalence of undernourishment in the world. Out of about 795 million people suffering from chronic undernourishment globally, 220 million live in Africa.

At around 23.2%, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in 2015 indicated that this is the highest prevalence of undernourishment worldwide. Even in abundant regions, food shortages can happen, mostly due to poor conservation techniques or post-harvest losses.

As a result, African countries import increasingly more agricultural products than they export, putting additional strain on scarce foreign exchange reserves. Other challenges facing the agricultural sector in the continent include gender disparities, dependence on rain-fed agriculture, low use of irrigation and technologies, limited public investment and institutional support.

All these factors prevent countries from increasing productivity, adapting to climate change shocks and promoting agricultural value chains and trade.

To address these challenges holistically, the African Development Bank in 2018 launched Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) programme.

The programme is an integral part of its Feed Africa Strategy of 2016–2025.

The programme increases agricultural productivity through the deployment of proven and high-performance agricultural technologies at scale along selected nine commodity value chains which include Maize, Rice, Wheat, High Iron Bean, Cassava, Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato, Sorghum/Millet, Livestock and Aquaculture.

These work with six enabler compacts addressing transversal issues such as soil fertility management, water management, capacity development, policy support, attracting African youth in agribusiness and fall armyworm response


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