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$540m Nigeria agric project: AfDB Adesina under fire for excluding Benue

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) and its President, Akinwumi Adesina have been criticized on the Nigerian states earmarked for a $540million project to boost the food industry and agriculture sector.

Adesina met President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja last week to discuss the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war and AfDB’s strategy to avoid a food crisis in Africa.

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The former Minister announced a $1.5billion Africa Emergency Food Production Plan to support countries to rapidly-produce around 38 million tonnes of food.

This will include 11 million tonnes of wheat, 18 million tonnes of maize, 6 million tonnes of rice, and 2.5 million tonnes of soybeans.

Affirming that Nigeria is a top priority under the emergency plan, Adesina said the strategy will help the country produce 9.5 million tonnes of food.

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The initiative will support 5 million smallholder farmers during the wet season of 2022 and 1 million across 10 Northern states during the 2022/2023 dry season.

AfDB is also supporting Nigeria in establishing Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) which President Buhari will launch soon.

Adesina tweeted: “@AfDB_Group⁩ has mobilised $540million, together with our partners, ⁦@IFAD⁩ & ⁦@isdb_group⁩, for Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones in 7 States (Kano, Kaduna, Oyo, Ogun, Kwara, Imo, Cross Rivers) & FCT”

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The information didn’t sit well with the majority of responders who queried the exclusion of Benue in the intervention.

The state is one of the most fertile in Nigeria with varieties of farm produce, hence the slogan “Food Basket of the Nation”.

Responders who argued that Benue was probably not selected because it was battling insecurity were countered by those maintaining the current situation in Kaduna is worse.

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Also, while some suggested other states for the SAPZ project, others believe those under the control of the All Progressives Congress (APC) were “favoured”.

Out of the seven beneficiary states, only Oyo is governed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

A few reactions:

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@PJOluma: “Benue the food basket of the Nation has no mention, is there any reason for the exclusion?”

A user replied: “It’s not an APC state. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know this.”

@abiodunm4: “Why don’t we have Taraba and Benue. Presently Kaduna has no peace for farming.”

@Samrealtor01: “Why did you exclude Benue state from Agricultural plans in Nigeria? It is not fair sir. The so-called Food Basket of the Nation is not in your plan and the entire North-Central is excluded.”

@Lubem24: “Even the presence of river Benue alone (even though it’s 98% underutilized) gives Benue an edge.”

@Mr_temitope: “FCT should be replaced by Benue State. I don’t see a reason why FCT should be there. It is not everything that should have the federal capital in it.”

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@Igbaonyionoja: “Benue State is not on the list. What is the basis of the selection? Political abi federal character? We are not ready yet.”

@Topyyan: “I expect Ebonyi and Benue to be part of them. I believe you have your own reasons and clear view of these states you have selected.”

@realericande: “When you stop playing politics you will work with the food basket of the nation to achieve maximum results.”

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@moadavize: “What happened to Benue state food basket of the nation sir. Please don’t join these ppl in playing useless politics that gets this country nowhere.”

Meanwhile, the AfDB’s Emergency Food Production Plan is before the Bank’s Board of Directors for approval.

It is set for implementation by the end of May 2022 and will cover all African member countries of the Bank.

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