AfDB Prioritises Nigeria in $1.5bn Emergency Food Production Plan

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By Adedapo Adesanya

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has said Nigeria is a top priority under the emergency food production plan.

This was disclosed by the head of the bank, Mr Akinwumi Adesina, when he met with the President of Nigeria, Mr Muhammadu Buhari, in Abuja to discuss the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war and the bank’s strategy to avoid a food crisis in Africa.

He explained that the lender has designed a $1.5 billion Africa Emergency Food Production Plan to support countries to rapidly produce around 38 million tonnes of food to mitigate the effect of the war on food prices.

This will include 11 million tonnes of wheat; 18 million tonnes of maize; 6 million tonnes of rice; and 2.5 million tonnes of soybeans.

Mr Adesina added that the strategy will help the country produce 9.5 million tonnes of food. The initiative will support the country’s 5 million smallholder farmers during the wet season of 2022 and one million across 10 northern states during the dry season of 2022/2023.

He stressed that urgent actions were needed to prevent a food crisis in Africa, reaffirming that the bank “is fully prepared to meet this new challenge head-on.”

On his part, President Buhari said his government was committed to encouraging farmers to increase yields and ensure there is an adequate food supply in Nigeria.

He commended the AfDB for the plan to “swiftly and boldly” mitigate the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on food supplies.

Russia and Ukraine dominate exports of wheat and maize to Africa. With the disruption of supplies arising from the war, Africa now faces a shortage of at least 30 million metric tons of food, especially for wheat, maize, and soybeans imported from both countries.

Official figures estimate that the price of wheat has soared in Africa by over 45 per cent since the war began. Fertilizer prices have gone up by 300 per cent, and the continent faces a fertilizer shortage of 2 million metric tons. If this is not made up, food production in Africa will decline by 20 per cent and the continent could lose over $11 billion in value of food production.

The AfDB emergency food plan is currently before the bank’s Board of Directors for approval. It is set for implementation by the end of May 2022 and will cover all African member countries of the Bank.

The lender is also supporting Nigeria in establishing Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ), which the Nigerian president is due to launch soon.

Both parties agreed that putting the lender’s emergency food plan and SAPZ initiatives into action in Nigeria will increase food production, lower food price inflation and transform the agriculture sector and in turn, ensure food security and create jobs.

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