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Africa could reel from health crisis to food crisis

Video credit: Reuters Studio
Published on April 24, 2020 - Duration: 01:43s

Africa could reel from health crisis to food crisis

Sub-Saharan Africa, the world’s largest rice-importing region, could be heading from a health crisis straight into a food security crisis, the World Bank warns, while domestic crops go rotten amid lockdown measures.

Ciara Lee reports

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Africa could reel from health crisis to food crisis

Nigeria's Benue state is known as the food basket of the country.

But Mercy Yialase's rice mill is sitting idle.

Demand is high across the nation, but she already has mounds of paddy rice that's going nowhere.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) RICE MILLER, MERCY YIALASE, SAYING: "So you can see that the rice, the paddy rice that I have in large quantity, I cannot mill because the wholesale buyers are not coming, they have stopped coming.

When they start to come I can mill everything here and they will buy." The UN says millions of people in the region are at risk of not getting the food they need due to virus disruptions.

Although food truck drivers are meant to be exempt from lockdown restrictions, many are afraid to operate.

Trucking logistics firm Kobo360's co-founder said 30% of its fleet across Nigeria, Kenya, Togo, Ghana and Uganda has stopped working.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) CO-FOUNDER OF TRUCKING LOGISTICS FIRM KOBO360, IFE OYEDELE, SAYING: "There is no clarity around what can move around or what trucks can move around, or what assets, or what is essential transportation.

So you see many of our transporters and truck owners are scared to go out and have their drivers on the road because they are worried that they're going to get held or detained because there is no clarity." Some farmers have reported rotting crops, as they wait for trucks that never arrive.

While domestic crops go to waste, the imports the region relies on have also dried up.

Major suppliers, including India, Vietnam and Cambodia, have reduced or even banned rice exports to make sure their countries have enough.

The scarcity has driven up prices beyond the reach of some people.

Nigeria's government has said the government is taking steps to make sure farmers, millers and buyers can operate.

For many like Yialase help can't come soon enough.

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