Empowering Ethiopia: African Development Bank Group and Partners Launch $94 Million Project to Enhance Climate Resilient Wheat Value Chain

From left, Deputy Head of Cooperation in the Netherlands Embassy in Ethiopia Tiest Soondal, FAO Rep Douglas Magunda, President of Afar, Awol Arba, Ethiopia Minister of Agriculture Girma Amente, AfDB Deputy Director General for East Africa Abdul Kamara, and CEO of OCP Africa Mohamed Anouar Jamali.

In a bold step towards enhancing Ethiopia’s agricultural self-sufficiency and bolstering climate resilience, the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), in collaboration with the government of Ethiopia and esteemed partners, has launched the Climate Resilient Wheat Value Chain Development (CREW) Project. With a staggering investment of $94 million, this initiative aims to revolutionize Ethiopia’s wheat sector, transitioning the nation from a wheat importer to a robust producer and exporter on the global stage.

The Genesis of the CREW Project

The CREW Project represents a convergence of strategic partnerships and financial support. The AfDB, through its concessional arm, the African Development Fund (ADF), leads with a substantial grant of $54 million. The Netherlands contributes $20 million, while OCP-Africa and the Ethiopian government each pledge $10 million. Additionally, the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) joins in with a grant of $300,000 under the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP).

Objectives and Impact

At its core, the CREW Project aims to uplift 500,000 smallholder farmer households across Ethiopia’s key agricultural states: Afar, Amhara, Oromia, and Somali. By enhancing wheat productivity from three to four tons per hectare, the initiative anticipates an impressive yield increase of 1.62 million tons of wheat. This ambitious goal aligns closely with Ethiopia’s national development strategy, aiming to fortify food security, elevate household incomes, and create sustainable job opportunities, particularly benefiting women who comprise 50% of the beneficiaries.

Components of the CREW Project

The project unfolds in two pivotal components:

  1. Improving Agricultural Practices: Efforts include the development of superior seed varieties, soil enrichment strategies, rehabilitation of irrigation systems and access roads, and promoting sustainable mechanization.
  2. Expanding Post-Harvest Infrastructure: Focuses on bolstering market access and establishing innovative agri-finance mechanisms, vital for sustaining agricultural growth beyond production.
A smallholder farmer in Ethiopia’s Awash River Valley inspects higher-yielding, climate-smart wheat supported by the Bank’s Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation program

Strategic Launch and Stakeholder Support

The project was officially inaugurated in Semera, Afar Regional State, underscoring the collaborative efforts of stakeholders. Dr. Girma Amente, Ethiopia’s Minister of Agriculture, highlighted wheat’s strategic importance within the national agricultural framework, affirming CREW’s alignment with Ethiopia’s overarching development plans.

Partnerships for Sustainability

Reflecting on the project’s significance, Dr. Abdul Kamara, AfDB’s Deputy Director General for East Africa, emphasized the bank’s extensive commitments across Ethiopia’s critical sectors, envisioning sustained economic transformation through CREW’s initiatives.

International Support and Commitment

International partners, including the Netherlands and OCP-Africa, underscored their commitment to addressing Ethiopia’s agricultural challenges. Mr. Tiest Soondal from the Netherlands Embassy stressed their dedication to humanitarian, development, and food security goals, aligning seamlessly with the CREW Project’s objectives.

Future Prospects and Beyond

Looking ahead, the CREW Project holds promise not only for bolstering Ethiopia’s agricultural self-sufficiency but also for showcasing scalable solutions in climate resilience and sustainable development across the African continent. By integrating digital adaptation solutions and modern agricultural practices, CREW not only aims to boost yields but also to fortify communities against climate-related vulnerabilities.

In conclusion, the CREW Project stands as a beacon of hope and progress, symbolizing a transformative approach to agricultural development in Ethiopia. With robust partnerships and innovative strategies at its helm, this initiative paves the way for a resilient and prosperous future, where agriculture serves as a cornerstone of economic growth and community well-being.

Source: Olufemi Terry at media@afdb.org.

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