Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has recognised the efforts by the Federal Government to support the agricultural sector as the pandemic challenges normal food production and distribution.
The organisation however noted that the food security picture remains mixed in AGRA focused countries.
“Security Monitor reports that 15 African countries have been identified as “hunger hotspots” where the food security situation is significantly deteriorating, mainly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In West Africa, in Nigeria, the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the reduced purchasing power of the Naira. In Burkina Faso, Mali and the Niger, COVID-19 continues alongside conflicts and difficult security situations, contributing to food insecurity.
“In Nigeria, where there are nearly 50,000 cases of COVID-19, the government continues to put in place support for the agricultural sector. A new rule published by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is lifting the ceiling on funding for agribusinesses by pegging the debt they can raise to their equity, raising the limits to 40 per cent of investee company’s equity subject to a maximum of N2 billion and for up to 10 years. The Central Bank expects this to improve access to affordable and sustainable finance for agri-businesses, medium and small businesses (MSMEs), create employment opportunities in Nigeria, and boost the managerial capacity of agri-businesses and MSMEs to grow their businesses, develop the sector and promote inclusive growth.
We are seeing stakeholders debate the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) ban on using forex for maize imports which was aimed at boosting local production, stimulating a rapid economic recovery, safeguarding rural livelihoods and increasing jobs which were lost as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the prices of animal feeds have risen after the CBN’s decision,” AGRA said in a release.
The Federal Government on its part has said it will continue to strengthen the institutional framework to boost Rural Agricultural production and also ensure food security amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
The senior special assistant to the president on agriculture, Dr. Andrew Kwasari stated this on Radio Nigeria Good Governance and Public Accountability Programme, “Have Your Say”.
Dr. Kwasari said, it became necessary to provide support to production systems in the Agricultural sector towards mitigating the impact of the pandemic on farmers.
He further explained that President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration was doing everything possible to ensure that farmers got the right incentives at the right time.
He noted that the database of farmers would also help in policy formulations to ensure increase in food production for both local consumption and for export.
Dr. Kwasari also said that the government would continue to provide capacity building for youths in the Agricultural sector as a means to stimulate economic growth in the country as COVID-19 still lingers.