US Secretary of State Antony Blinken Hails TAAT Programme
The United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken has praised the African Development Bank Group for its exceptional efforts to help Africa feed itself through its Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) programme.
“Extraordinary work is being done to get to where Africa feeds itself and where Africa feeds the world. I’m convinced that can happen,” Secretary of State Blinken said during a visit hosted by African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina in Abidjan on Tuesday.
Welcoming Secretary Blinken, President Adesina said, “This is the first time that a US Secretary of State would visit the African Development Bank and its work. Secretary Blinken’s visit is historic and provides great momentum for our work to feed Africa. I applaud Secretary Blinken’s strong leadership and commitment to food security and look forward to working closely with him and the US government to advance our joint efforts to support Africa to feed itself and help feed the world.”
The two met at the headquarters of AfricaRice—a pan-African centre of excellence for rice research, development, and capacity building that leads the TAAT Rice Compact alongside other partners. The TAAT Rice compact is being implemented in 16 countries and has recorded increased incomes of households of the programme’s beneficiaries by 32% (from US$459 to US$604) and increased rice production by more than 1 million tons through the adoption of climate-resilient and nutritious varieties, the use of quality seeds and training of beneficiaries in good agricultural practices.
During the visit, Secretary Blinken and President Adesina participated in the TAAT Rice Showcase, which allowed the August visitors to interact with the beneficiaries of the TAAT Rice Compact in Ivory Coast. The showcase, which was led by the Director General of AfricaRice, Dr Baboucarr Manneh, comprised a display of climate-resilient and high-yielding rice varieties, GEM rice parboiling equipment developed by the compact, and women rice processors and distributors from the TAAT Rice Innovation Platform in Bouaké, Ivory Coast.
At the end of the showcase, Secretary Blinken remarked that “the African Development Bank is making the necessary investments in sustainable production in a smart, effective way through its TAAT programme by maximising crops and producing crops that can stand up to climate change.”
Beyond crops such as rice, Secretary Blinken said the Biden administration was convinced that there is tremendous potential in investing in the production of crops that are climate-resilient and highly nutritious, including some of Africa’s neglected traditional foods.
“Today I met a passionate scientist, a young female farmer, and a talented group of manufacturers who, with the support of the African Development Bank through the TAAT Programme, are working to improve food security, develop climate resilient technologies, and create sustainable economic growth in Africa,” Secretary Blinken added.
Thanking the US for its support to the Bank Group’s key agricultural initiatives, Dr. Adesina said: “I applaud the work President Biden is doing for global food security. I’m delighted with our partnership with the US Government to help us move forward on food security in Africa.”
$9.5 million boost for TAAT Phase II
Dr. Adesina also thanked Secretary Blinken for a new grant of $9.5 million to support the TAAT programme. The grant, a part of the larger US Government’s “Feed the Future” global hunger initiative, will be used for the second phase of the Bank programme, TAAT II, to help African countries increase food production, introduce climate-smart technologies, and expand extension services. To date TAAT has deployed climate-resilient agricultural technologies and fertilisers to 13 million African farmers in 40 African countries to help boost the continent’s food production and food security. The USAID grant will help expand the reach of TAAT II further.
The United States will work with the African Development Bank to identify opportunities to partner with the US State Department’s Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils (VACS) activities and develop an investment strategy.
TAAT aims to double the productivity of staple crops, livestock, and fisheries by making proven technologies available to more than 40 million agricultural producers by 2025. This will produce an additional 120 million tons of food.
According to Dr Manneh: ‘‘It is important to build on TAAT’s successes to help African countries achieve rice self-sufficiency with initiatives such as AfDB’s REWARD programme which aims to produce 53 million tons of paddy, in the next 5 years leading to rice self-sufficiency in 15 African countries.’’
Dr Sali Atanga Ndideng, the TAAT Rice Compact Leader, affirmed that rice yields have increased by 25% and livelihoods by more than 31%,” since the TAAT Rice Compact was launched in 2018. “Secretary Blinken’s visit and the additional support have deepened our resolve to reach millions of rice farmers with proven technologies in the form of climate-resilient rice varieties, agronomic and post-harvest practices such as RiceAdvice and Smart Valleys and GEM parboiler,” Dr Ndideng added.