Border closure helped Nigeria improve food production capacity - Buhari
President of African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina (L) and President Muhammedu Buhari

Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, said the decision to close the country’s land borders achieved results in terms improving food production.

Buhari had ordered the closure of the country’s land borders in August 2019 to crack down on smuggling.

Four of the borders were reopened in 2020 including the Seme border in South West, Maigatari and Ilela borders in North West and Mfun borders in South-South.

Four more were ordered reopened by the President last week including Idiroko in Ogun, Jibiya in Katsina, Kamba in Kebbi and Ikom in Cross River.

Speaking during an audience with the African Development Bank (AfDB) President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, President Buhari suggested that the decision to close borders helped to improve food production in the country.

“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,” Buhari said.

The AfDB president had briefed him on steps being taken by the bank to avert food crisis in Africa, in the foreseeable future.

Buhari praised AfDB for planning ahead of whatever negative consequences may come from the Russia-Ukraine war in terms of food security.

Adesina said that 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 fertiliser 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,” the AfDB President disclosed.

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

He added: “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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