By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari said yesterday that his government shut the nation’s borders to protect farmers. Buhari spoke as President of Africa Development Bank, AfDB, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, disclosed that the bank has earmarked $1.5 billion Africa Emergency Food Plan to cushion the effect of Russia/Ukraine conflict expected to trigger global food crisis.
The President, who spoke at a meeting with the AfDB boss in his office in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, explained that much had been achieved in encouraging local farmers since the land borders were closed two years ago. He, however, lauded the AfDB for planning ahead of whatever negative consequences might 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. ”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,” the President said.
The federal government has since reopened some of the land borders. In his remarks, Adesina raised the alarm that there might be fertilizer crisis in Africa which would cause about two million metric tons’ deficit. He said already, the price of wheat had gone up to about 60 per cent, while maize and other grains would also be affected.
“Already, the price of wheat has gone up to about 60 per cent. Maize and other grains will also be affected. There may be fertilizer crisis, as there would be about two million metric tons 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 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,” Adesina said.
Talking specifically of Nigeria, the AfDB president and a former Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria, 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.
He added: “In total, our support will help Nigeria to produce 9.5 million metric tons of food.” According to him, states that will benefit from the assistance include Kano, Ogun, Oyo, Kaduna, Imo, Cross River, and the Federal Capital Territory.