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FG borrows 5,000MT of grains from ECOWAS to support the vulnerable

Smallholder farmers in Borno receive free seeds, water pumps, others from FG

In a bid to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and sustain food security in Nigeria, the federal government has said that 5,000MT of grains was borrowed from the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS).

ECOWAS, in conjunction with its Donors and Financial Partners, also donated 3,399 Metric Tons (MT) worth of cereals to the Nigerian government as humanitarian assistance to support the most vulnerable populations.

The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Baba Shehuri, made this known in a statement on Sunday, August 23.

Shehuri said, ”The Government of Federal Republic of Nigeria loaned 5,000MT of assorted grains from ECOWAS Stock which was agreed to be paid back on grain for grain basis.

’’Modalities had been put in place to replace the ECOWAS Stock before the advent of COVID-19 pandemic. That notwithstanding, I can assure you that the stock will be replaced in due course’’.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: FG begins input distribution to farmers in South East

While receiving the cereals at the handing over ceremony at the Grain Depot at Hotoro in Kano State over the weekend, Shehuri said that the 3,999 MT of cereals donated by ECOWAS will be distributed to vulnerable populations affected by the negative impact of COVID-19, terrorism, inter-community conflicts and drought.

The Minister noted that the Heads of Government of ECOWAS member states decided to set up Regional Food Security Reserve (RFSR) Programme in order to address the incessant worrying food crisis in the West African Sub-region, especially the Sahel.

Shehuri said the RFSR necessitated the signing of Contract Agreement between ECOWAS and the Ministry’s Department of Food & Strategic Reserve on July 7, 2017.

The contract ”includes keeping a substantial quantity of food in her Food Reserve that can be used for interventions in case of emergencies and to boost food security within the ECOWAS member States,” the Minister explained.

Daily Times reports that the Federal Government through the Ministry recently released 70,000 MT of assorted grains from its strategic grains reserves to cushion the effect of COVID- 19 pandemic.

Shehuri thanked the ECOWAS, Developmental Partners and Kano State Government for their contribution and support towards averting food crisis in Nigeria and West Africa region in general.

Also speaking, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Mrs Sadiya Umar Farouk, assured: “The food items provided by the ECOWAS Commission will reach the most vulnerable in our society, which will work towards mitigating the risk of food insecurity at this critical time.”

The Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubariu Dada, appreciated the ECOWAS Commission for its programme and pledged the continuous support of the Federal Government of Nigeria towards the Programmes of the ECOWAS Commission.

In his remarks, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Water Resources & Environment, Mr Sangare Sekou said, “In compliance with the Management rules adopted by the Member States, food from the Regional Food Security Reserve alongside with national governments efforts, Countries with larger populations that are most stricken by food insecurity are ones chosen to receive food donation.”

Mr Sekou stated that those donations were directed to the most vulnerable populations living in Burkina Faso, the Republic of Niger, Mali and the Federal Republic of Nigeria, mostly in the North Region. He lauded the European Union, French Development Agency among others for the technical and financial assistance provided pro currently to ECOWAS.

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