Muhammadu Buhari disclosed on Tuesday that his government shut the nation’s borders to protect farmers.
Buhari spoke as President of African Development Bank, AfDB, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, revealed that the bank had set aside a $1.5 billion Africa Emergency Food Plan to cushion the effect of the Russia/Ukraine conflict expected to trigger a global food crisis.
The President, who spoke at a meeting with the AfDB boss in his office in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, disclosed that much success had been achieved in assisting and encouraging local farmers since the land borders were closed off two years ago. He, however, praised the AfDB for thinking and planning ahead of whatever negative repercussions 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 then reopened part of the land borders.
In his reaction, Adesina cautioned that if care is not taken there might be a fertilizer crisis in Africa which would cause about two million metric tons’ deficit. He claimed 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 AfDB had developed a $1.5 billion Africa Emergency Food Plan, which is now before the bank’s Board for approval.
He further explained, “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.”
Emphasizing on Nigeria, the AfDB president and a former Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria, stated that in the wet season of 2022, at least five million smallholder farmers would be assisted 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.