The Economic Commission of West Africa States (ECOWAS) in conjunction with its donors and financial partners has donated 3.399 metric tons worth of cereals as humanitarian assistance to support the most vulnerable populations affected by the COVID – 19 pandemic.
This was disclosed in a statement on Monday by Ezeaja Ikemefuna, for the director information of the Ministry of Agriculture.
According to the statement, the 3.399 MT of cereals donation by ECOWAS was received on behalf of the federal government by the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Shehuri.
The minister, while receiving the cereals at the handing over ceremony at the grain depot at Hotoro, Kano in Kano State over the weekend, stated that ‘’Nigeria has taken notice of this kind gesture by ECOWAS.
“Be rest assured that the 3,999 MT of cereals will be distributed to vulnerable populations affected by the negative impact of COVID-19, terrorism, inter community conflicts and drought.’’
According to him, “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.’’
He said, “in order to address the incessant worrying food crisis in the West African Sub- region especially the Sahel, the Heads of Government of ECOWAS member states decided to set up Regional Food Security Reserve (RFSR) Programme.’’
He noted that ‘’this necessitated the signing of the Contract Agreement between ECOWAS and the Ministry’s Department of Food & Strategic Reserve on 7th July, 2017.
“This 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 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,’’ he said.
He further stated that, “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,” he said.
Mr Shehuri thanked the ECOWAS, developmental partners and Kano State Government for their contribution and support towards averting a food crisis in Nigeria and West Africa region in general.
In her goodwill message, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya 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.”
She acknowledged the critical role played by the Minister and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in facilitating the delivery of the food items.
While giving his goodwill message, the Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Zubariu Dada, appreciated the ECOWAS Commission for its programme towards migrating the impact of COVID 19 pandemic in the West Africa region.
He also pledged 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”.
He 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 commended the European Union, French Development Agency, among others, for technical and financial assistance provided pro currently to ECOWAS.