By Jacob Kubeka (ABUJA) –
President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria has given plaudits to the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), for planning ahead of whatever negative consequences may come from the Russia-Ukraine war in terms of food security.
The President spoke Tuesday at State House, Abuja, during an audience with the AfDB President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, who briefed him on steps being taken by the bank to avert food crisis in Africa, in the foreseeable future.
“Thank you for knowing our weaknesses and our strengths, and for planning and working ahead,” President Buhari said. “We are very much aware of the need for food security, and to encourage our local farmers, that was why we closed our borders for about two years to curb smuggling. We made some progress.”
Dr Adesina said the Russia-Ukraine war would create global problems, and particularly for Africa, which imports a huge percentage of its food from the two countries.
“Already, the price of wheat has gone up about 60%. Maize and other grains will also be affected. There may be fertilizer crisis, as there would be about 2 million metric tons deficit. And that will affect food production by about 20%. Africa will lose $11 billion worth of food, and coming shortly after COVID-19, that would be rather serious,” the AfDB President disclosed.
To prepare against the evil day, Dr Adesina said the AfDB has developed a $1.5 billion Africa Emergency Food Plan, which is now before the bank’s Board for approval.
He added: “We were not ready for COVID-19, but we are now planning to avert food crisis on the continent. There is plan to help farmers cultivate wheat, maize, rice, sorghum, and soybeans. It will mitigate the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war.”
Talking specifically of Nigeria, the Nigerian-born Adesina, and a former Minister of Agriculture, said in the wet season of 2022, at least 5 million smallholder farmers would be helped to cultivate 1 million hectares of maize, 1 million hectares of rice, and 250,000 hectares of sorghum and soybeans, respectively.
“In total, our support will help Nigeria to produce 9.5 million metric tons of food.”
States that will benefit from the assistance include Kano, Ogun, Oyo, Kaduna, Imo, Cross River, and the Federal Capital Territory.
Dr Adesina submitted: “Mr President, you have a passion for agriculture. We are behind you strongly, and we want to ensure Nigeria won’t feel the impact of the food crisis.”