ADDIS ABABA – The President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has assured Nigeria of the Bank’s strong support to achieve food security in the West African nation.
The president said this during a meeting with a high-level Nigerian delegation led by the country’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, in the Capital of Ivory Coast, Abidjan.
The two sides discussed means of tackling growing concerns about the Nigeria’s food security.
Adesina said the Bank’s strategic support for Nigeria’s food production would be hinged on five factors: support, scale, systemic, speed, and sustainability.
“I want to assure President (Muhammadu) Buhari that the African Development Bank will provide his government with very strong support to tackle the country’s food security challenges,” he said.
“Inflation in Nigeria is high, at 16% or more. Of course, the biggest share of the consumer price index is the price of food, at almost 65%. So, if we can drive down the price of food, of course, we can drive down inflation,” he added.
Adesina urged the Nigerian minister to concentrate on building the correct team and tactics to optimize the country’s farming seasons.
“The task, responsibility, and challenge of feeding Nigeria rests on your shoulders. You will receive maximum support from me,” he told the Minister.
Abubakar welcomed the Bank’s proposed strategy and described it as a landmark one that would spur Nigeria’s food supply production.
“It will reverse the ugly trend of a sharp increase in prices of food in the country,” he said.
“I am pleased with the Bank’s strategy to facilitate the production of 9 million metric tons of food in Nigeria, and to support us in raising self-sufficiency. The Bank’s Special Agro-Processing Zones initiative is a laudable one and Nigeria is grateful.”
The two also extensively discussed the Bank’s Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zone initiative as an effective medium-term plan for revolutionizing Nigeria’s agriculture value chain.
Citing successes in East Africa, Adesina explained how the African Development Bank had supported the country with 65,000 metric tonnes of heat-tolerant wheat varieties, cultivated on 317,000 hectares.
“It took two seasons to do this,” he said. “Change will not happen in years. You will see change in seasons. Sudan now produces 1.1 million metric tons of wheat. The same thing happened in Ethiopia in just two seasons with the production of 184, 000 hectares of wheat,” he added.
“Our mission is to examine ways Nigeria could enhance food production, lower food prices, and create wealth,” the minister said.
In response to Bank successes in Sudan and Ethiopia, Abubakar said “this gives me an additional measure of confidence”.
“If you can do it in Sudan, you can equally do it in Nigeria. Not just in wheat, but also rice, maize, and soybeans,” said the Minister.
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