.Akinwumi Adesina, youth

—Says continent may witness 2m metric tons deficit of fertilizer
—To lose $11 billion worth of food
—Boarders closed for two years to protect Nigerian farmers –Buhari

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, ABUJA

PRESIDENT of Africa Development Bank, AfDB, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, on Tuesday said that the bank has earmarked $1.5 billion Africa Emergency Food Plan to cushion the effect of Russia/Ukraine conflict expected to trigger a global food crisis.

Dr. Adesina, who disclosed this during a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, also raised the alarm that there may be fertilizer crisis in Africa which will cause about two million metric tons deficit.

He said already, that the price of wheat has gone up about 60 percent, while maize and other grains will also be affected.

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This is President Buhari, has said his administration is keen on protecting the country’s food security, explaining that his government shut the country’s land boarders 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.

“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.”

In his speech during the meeting, Dr Adesina briefed President Buhari on steps being taken by the bank to avert food crisis in Africa, in the foreseeable future.

According to him, “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.”~

To prepare against the evil day, Dr Adesina said “the AfDB had developed a $1.5 billion Africa Emergency Food Plan, which is now before the bank’s Board for approval.”

He further said, “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.”

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