The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has disclosed that the bank has decided to shore up Africa’s food security with a $1.5 billion Africa Emergency Food Plan in the wake of the Russia/Ukraine conflict which is projected to trigger a global food crisis.
Adesina, who stated this Tuesday during a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, added that the food plan is awaiting the ratification of the bank’s board.
He also disclosed that owing to the conflict, the price of wheat had gone up about 60%, saying it would affect about 20% of Africa’s food production.
Briefing President Buhari on steps being taken by the AfDB to avert food crisis in Africa in the foreseeable future, 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%. Maize and other grains will also be affected. There may be fertilizer crisis, as there would be about 2 million metric tonnes 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.”
To prepare against the evil day, he said the AfDB had developed a $1.5 billion Africa Emergency Food Plan, which is now before the bank’s board for approval.
“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,” he said.
Talking specifically of 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 tonnes of food,” Adesina said.
He listed states to benefit from the assistance to include Kano, Ogun, Oyo, Kaduna, Imo, Cross River and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
According to AfDB boss, “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.”
In his response, President Buhari, who said his administration is keen on protecting the country’s food security, explained that his administration shut the country’s land borders for about two years with the aim of encouraging Nigerian farmers, adding that much had been achieved through the plan.
He, however, lauded the AfDB for planning ahead of whatever negative consequences may 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”.
He added that: “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.”
Culled from THISDAY