The amount of money that Africa spends on importing food more than doubled, from $35 billion in 2015 to $75 billion presently, data from the African Development Bank Group shows. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB Group) shared the data during the second Africa food summit taking place in Dakar, Senegal from January 25-28. Such a trend implies that Africa is using its hard-earned foreign exchange to import food that it can actually produce locally, according to agricultural actors on the continent. “It is time for Africa’s food sovereignty and resilience. While gains have been made in recent times the continent remains over-dependent on food imports,” Adesina said, indicating that Africa imports over 100 million tonnes of food, valued at $75 billion annually. According to the bank, increased food demand and changing consumption habits were leading to rapidly rising net food imports, which were expected to gradually grow to over $110 billion by 2025. But, it added, these food imports could be offset by increased African production. “Africa can and must feed itself. With 65 per cent of the uncultivated arable land left in the world being in Africa, what Africa does with agriculture will determine the future of food in the world,” Adesina observed. Samia Suluhu Hassan, the President of Tanzania, said that there is a need to support the youth and women through access to land, cheap financing and farm inputs such as seeds and fertilisers, and agriculture mechanisation so that they are able to contribute to food security on the continent. “We think that by reinforcing the capacity through creating an appropriate and conducive environment, the youth and women can help feed the continent,” she said. Another concern is that Africa is the region with the highest hunger prevalence in the world, according to the 2022 report of the state of food security and nutrition in the world by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The FAO report shows that of 828 million people affected by hunger in 2021, 278 million people were in Africa – or 20.2 percent of its population – compared to the global hunger prevalence of 9.8 per cent. A well-fed nation is a healthy nation. And only a food secure continent can develop with pride. For there is no pride in begging for food... We must raise our ambition. We must arise and say to ourselves, it is time to feed Africa, Adesina said. Mitigating effects of Russia-Ukraine war According to AfDB, as of May 2022, the price of wheat had soared in Africa by over 45 per cent since the war in Ukraine began. Fertiliser prices went up by 300 per cent (tripled), and the continent faced a fertiliser shortage of two million tonnes. To mitigate the effects of the Russian-Ukraine war on food availability in Africa, Adesina said, the AfDB Group immediately launched a $1.5 billion African Emergency Food Production Facility that approved operations for 34 countries within eight weeks. The African Emergency Food Production Facility is now supporting 20 million farmers in Africa to produce 38 million metric tons of food worth $12 billion, he indicated. The 2022 Africa Agriculture Status Report by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) exposed the fact that Africa's food systems are fragile. It estimated that the continent needs up to $257 billion annually to develop its agriculture sector, with a view to cushion its food systems from shocks such as climate change effects, and end hunger.