THE African Development Bank (AfDB) says its Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation programme would benefit 40 million farmers in the next five years, adding 120 million tonnes into the continent’s food basket.

Since the launch of the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation programme in 2018, the project has been implemented by 28 countries while four more are in the process of joining the programme.

“The Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) programme has set the ambitious target of reaching 40 million farmers in the next five years and adding 120 million tonnes of additional foodstuffs in the African food basket, valued between US$1,5 billion to $2,8 billion,” said the regional bank.

AfDB said the overall goal of TAAT was to radically transform African agriculture into a competitive sector by deploying high-impact, proven agricultural technologies to raise agricultural productivity in Africa. The programme is also aimed at mitigating risks and promote diversification and processing in 18 agricultural value chains within eight priority intervention areas that include self-sufficiency in rice production, cassava intensification food and nutrition security in the Sahel, this, transforming African savannahs into breadbaskets, expanding horticulture, increasing Africa’s wheat output and achieving self-sufficiency in inland fish farming.

“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,” said the regional financier.

It said success stories of the TAAT project have been recorded in countries such as Ethiopia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Sudan.

In Zambia, for instance, 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 Programme,” it said.

“Since 2018, TAAT has provided Zambia with more than 28 000 liters of chemical used to treat close to 5 000 tonnes of seed that resists fall armyworm infestation. Almost half-a-million Zambian farmers have benefited from the treated seed.”

AfDB said in Zimbabwe, where some 70 percent 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 tonnes 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,” it said.

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 five 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.

The bank noted that 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,” it said