Nigeria vulnerable to food crisis - IFAD’s boss

President of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Kanayo Nwanze
Nigeria’s assessed food-import depend profile may have placed it among the countries that are most vulnerable to food crisis, the President of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), an agency of the United Nations, Kanayo Nwanze has warned.

Nwanze, gave the warning yesterday, in Abuja, when he featured at an interview session of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). “Nigeria is one of the five countries that is vulnerable to food crisis like any other country in the world. “The reason for this is very simple. If you end up importing over 50 per cent of what you consumed to a country, then you are subject to international vagaries of prices, weather and what have you and with climate change.

“You see, if a country is highly dependant on food imports, there is no way it can assure the means of feeding its people. “Because, even if you have the money and there is severe crisis like drought, they will want to feed the population first,” he said.
The IFAD president explained that the drought that ravaged some parts of Russia last year made the government to ban wheat exports.

He also recalled that the flood that submerged large areas of Pakistan last year, affected rice production in that country. “Now, if a country like Nigeria is dependent on food import, then certainly, it risks being a victim of any food crisis,’’ he stressed. Nwanze said, however, that Nigeria could avoid such crisis if the government built on the resilience of its people, especially the poor rural farmers by investing in agricultural systems.

He also underscored the need for investment that catered to the needs of the rural people, noting that they were always worst-hit in times of food crisis. “We can build resilience of our people by investing in our agricultural systems but particularly the poor rural people; they are the ones that are most hit when you have food crisis and food price crisis. “When you have vagaries of weather, due to climate change, they are the ones that are affected.
“So what we should be doing is basically what IFAD does; is to build community resilience; the ability to produce crops, to produce livestock, to have better storage facilities so that when the rains fail, they are able to sustain their livelihoods.

“The rains will fail; climate change is going to continue to worsen; the weather condition are going to get worst. “There are going to be more floods; there are going to be more droughts, and so there is going to be more shortages of food, but if we prepare ourselves we can certainly avoid a food crisis.” Nwanze noted that Nigeria, particularly needed to build the resilience of the rural population, who the major food producers in the country.
He said that such approach to agricultural development would enable the rural populace to sustain themselves and go beyond subsistence and make farming a profitable business.
Meanwhile, Nwanze has commended Nigeria for tripling its contribution to the organisation for the seventh and eighth replenishment of its resources from $5 million (about N760 million) to $15 million (N2.3 billion).

Nwanze gave the commendation in Abuja on when he featured at an interview forum of the News Agency of in Abuja, on Sunday. Nwanze described Nigeria as a key member of the UN agency being the largest economy in Africa and also a member of Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries. He noted that Nigeria contributed a lot of money to IFAD-assisted programmes in the country while the organisation provided less than half of the cost of the programmes.

He acknowledged that Nigeria accounted for 30 per cent of IFAD portfolio in Africa. “Nigeria tripled its contribution to IFAD between IFAD Seven and what we call IFAD Eight, which is the Replenishment Process; it went from five to 15 million dollars. “I must correct the perception that IFAD just gives loads or grants to Nigeria and it stops there. Actually, the Federal Government, the state governments contribute a lot of money to the programmes.

“We only provide part of the budget; in many cases, we provide less than 50 per cent of the total cost of the programme. “Our progammes leverage additional resources from domestic funding source as well as other international contributors.’’ The IFAD president said that the FUND would inject 75 million dollars (aboutN11.5 billion) into the new value chain programme that would be implemented in Nigeria from 2012.

He said he had received assurances that government would provide additional 200 million dollars (about N30.7 billion) in counterpart funding toward the implementation of the programme. On his expectation from Nigeria toward the IFAD ninth Replenishment Process upon which consultation had started Nwanze said: “I will expect that the minimum that we should do for at least in IFAD Nine should be same in real terms as IFAD Eight. But why not double it; and I think I have indications that Nigeria will demonstrate its position.” NAN reports that the IFAD Replenishment Process is the process whereby its Governing Council periodically reviews the adequacy of resources available to the Fund.

Such review is conducted through the establishment of a Consultation on the Replenishment of IFAD’s Resources. The Replenishment Consultation is also an important mechanism for members to discuss and recommend future policy and institutional directions for the Fund. Upon conclusion, the Consultation presents a report and resolution for adoption by the Governing Council.

The first session of the Consultation on the Ninth Replenishment of IFAD’s Resources was held on February 21, in Rome. The discussions focused on IFAD’s progress at the mid-term of IFAD Eight and the work plan for IFAD Nine. The report and the resolution of the consultation will be submitted to the Governing Council for adoption in February 2012.