MANILA, Philippines, September 28 ------ The Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced a new funding support program to assist in addressing the food crisis in Asia and the Pacific.
The said program can provide at least $14 billion from 2022 to 2025, said ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa in a statement, to improve long-term food security and strengthen food systems against the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss. “This is a timely and urgently needed response to a crisis leaving too many poor families in Asia hungry and in deeper poverty,” said Asakawa during the ADB’s 55th Annual Meeting. “We need to act now before the impacts of climate change worsen and further erode the region’s hard-won development gains,” he added.
Asakawa explained that the assistance program would expand ADB’s support for food security in the region, estimating nearly 1.1 billion people lacking healthy diets due to poverty and food prices “which have soared to record highs this year.” The funding will be channeled through projects in sectors including farm inputs, food production and distribution, social protection, irrigation, water resources management, and projects leveraging nature-based solutions. He also vowed that the ADB would continue to invest in other activities which contribute to food security, such as energy transition, transport, access to rural finance, environmental management, health, and education.
Pointing at the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Asakawa bared that Asia and the Pacific are vulnerable to food shocks, as some of its countries depend on imported staples and fertilizer. But he gave assurance that ADB’s food security assistance will support investments in food production and distribution, improve nutrition, and boost climate resilience through integrated and nature-based solutions. It will also encourage open trade, improve smallholder farm production and livelihoods, ease fertilizer shortages and promote their effective use or organic alternatives.
“An important part of our long-term approach is to safeguard natural resources and support farmers and agribusinesses which produce and distribute much of the region’s food, and to promote open trade to ensure it reaches consumers efficiently,” said Asakawa. Assistance under the program will start in 2022 and continue through 2025. It aims to leverage an extra $5 billion in private sector co-financing for food security and will draw from ADB’s sovereign and private sector activities.