President Muhammadu Buhari has lauded 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 made the commendation during an audience with the AfDB President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, 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.
“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 per cent, maize and other grains will also be affected.
“There may be a fertilizer crisis, as there would be about two million metric tonnes deficit and that will affect food production by about 20 per cent.
“Africa will lose 11 billion dollars’ worth of food, and coming shortly after COVID-19, that would be rather serious,” the AfDB President disclosed.
According to Adesina, the AfDB has developed a 1.5 billion dollars Africa Emergency Food Plan, which is now before the bank’s board for approval in preparation for the crisis.
He added: “We were not ready for COVID-19, but we are now planning to avert 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.”
While 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.
According to him, states that will 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.