Speaking at the African Economic Conference in Abuja on Monday, Adesina said Africa must work on feeding itself and the world via import substitution.
“When I was minister in Nigeria, we moved aggressively on import substitution with use of cassava flour for use as composite flours in bread making and confectionery industries,” he said.
“People laughed us to scorn: Nigerians, they said, would never eat bread made from cassava flour. Well, unknown to Nigerians, flour millers, small, medium and large, have now all shifted to partial substitution of wheat flour with cassava composite flours.
“Don't look for 'cassava bread', all your bread is now cassava composite flour- based. The industry has shifted. The story is not just in Nigeria. As we speak, several countries have taken the homegrown policy in Nigeria to help reduce their wheat imports, including Liberia, Togo and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).”
He said a “young graduate, Noel, from Bukavu in Democratic Republic of Congo, together with his colleagues, have moved into agribusiness. In just a little over one year, they manufacture cassava flour, well- packaged and standardised for bakers”. “Today, Noel and his team 4 generate income of $4,000 per week, or $16,000 a month, or $196,000 per year. That means they are making over N78 million annually if converted into naira at the official interbank market rate. They are already multi- millionaires.
“He that has ears let him hear: The key to Africa's prosperity is value addition in agriculture, in turning our products to money, in looking inwards. Africa must feed itself.”
Adesina said to take new agricultural technologies to scale, AfDB will soon be launching a new $800 million initiative – Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) – with the goal of reaching 40 million farmers over ten years.