ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST — The African Development Bank Group (AFDB) met with a high-level Nigerian delegation on Oct. 18 to discuss means of tackling growing concerns about the country’s food security.
A report released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) earlier this year ranked Nigeria among the top three countries where acute hunger and food insecurity are set to worsen.
Akinwumi Adesina, president of the AFDB, said the Bank’s strategic support for Nigeria’s food production will hinge on five factors: support, scale, systems, speed and sustainability.
“Inflation in Nigeria is high, at 16% or more,” Adesina said. “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.”
Adesina urged Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, the Nigerian agriculture minister, to concentrate on building the correct team and tactics to optimize the country’s farming seasons. He said that dramatically increased food output will result in lower food prices, which will in turn lower inflation rates.
Citing successes in Sudan, Adesina explained how the ADFB had supported the country with 65,000 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 tonnes of wheat. The same thing happened in Ethiopia in just two seasons with the production of 184,000 hectares of wheat.”
In response to hearing of the Bank’s 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.”
The AFDB will provide Nigeria with support through input delivery, including highly improved seeds and fertilizers to farmers, and an integrated input delivery platform.
Extensively discussed at the meeting was the Bank’s Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zone initiative as an effective medium-term plan for revolutionizing Nigeria’s agriculture value chain.
“The Bank stands ready to fully support and help Nigeria in the next farming seasons,” Adesina said. “So, we must make sure things turn around. The president must succeed, and Nigeria must succeed. Agriculture must succeed.”
Abubakar said he welcomed the Bank’s proposed strategy and described it as 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 tonnes 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.”