President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, on Tuesday during his visit to President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja said the bank had approved a sum of $1.5 billion to mitigate the looming food crisis in Africa in the wake of the Russia/Ukraine conflict, which is being projected to trigger a global food crisis.
While responding, Buhari said his administration was keen on protecting the country’s food security, explaining that the government shut the country’s land borders for about two years to encourage Nigerian farmers. He said much had been achieved through the plan.
The World Bank in its latest Commodity Markets Outlook Report released on Tuesday, noted that the war in Ukraine had dealt a major shock to commodity markets, altering global patterns of trade, production, and consumption in ways that would keep prices at historically high levels through the end of 2024.
The AfDB president said the food plan was awaiting the ratification of the bank’s Board. He also disclosed that owing to the Ukraine conflict, the price of wheat had gone up about 60 per cent, saying it would affect about 20 percent of Africa’s food production.
Briefing Buhari on steps taken by AfDB to avert food crisis in the continent, 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.
He said, “Already, the price of wheat has gone up about 60 per cent. Maize and other grains will also be affected. There may be a fertilizer crisis, as there would be about a two million metric ton deficit. And that will affect food production by about 20 per cent. Africa will lose $11 billion worth of food, and coming shortly after COVID-19, that would be rather serious.”
To prepare against the rainy day, Adesina said AfDB had developed a $1.5 billion Africa Emergency Food Plan, which is now before the bank’s Board for approval.
He said, “We were not ready for COVID-19, but we are now planning to avert a food crisis on the continent. There is a plan to help farmers cultivate wheat, maize, rice, sorghum, and soybeans. It will mitigate the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war.”
Talking specifically on Nigeria, the former Minister of Agriculture said in the wet season of 2022, at least five million smallholder farmers would be helped to cultivate one million hectares of maize, one 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,” he explained.
He listed states to benefit from the assistance to include Kano, Ogun, Oyo, Kaduna, Imo, Cross River, and the Federal Capital Territory.
The AfDB head added, “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.”
Buhari lauded AfDB for planning ahead of whatever negative consequences might come from the Russia-Ukraine conflict in terms of food security.
The president appreciated Adesina, “for knowing our weaknesses and our strengths, and for planning and working ahead.”
Buhari added, “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.”
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