Despite the negative consequences of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war in terms of food security, the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) has done well in taking preemptive steps, by planning ahead, to avoid food crisis, President Muhammadu Buhari has said.
The President was quoted by his spokesperson, Femi Adesina, as commending the bank during an audience with the AfDB President, Akinwumi Adesina, on Tuesday in Abuja.
Adesina had briefed the president on steps being taken by the bank to avert food crisis in Africa, in the foreseeable future.
Buhari said: “Thank you for knowing our weaknesses and our strengths, and for planning and working ahead for us.
“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.”
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 percent. Maize and other grains will also be affected.
“There may be fertilizer crisis, as there would be about two million metric tonnes deficit of the commodity And that will significantly affect food production by about 20 percent. Africa will lose $11 billion worth of food, and coming shortly after COVID-19, that would be rather serious,” the AfDB President disclosed.
The AfDB, Adesina said, has developed a $1.5 billion Africa Emergency Food Plan, which is now before the bank’s Board for approval in preparation against the evil day.
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, Adesina, a former Nigerian 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,” he said.
For him, states that would benefit from the assistance include Kano, Ogun, Oyo, Kaduna, Imo, Cross River, and the Federal Capital Territory.
“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,” Adesina said. (NAN)