Former Nigeria’s president, Olusegun Obasanjo, and ex-Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Desalegn Boshe, have warned that about 80 million Africans may experience extreme poverty with the disruptions caused by COVID-19 on the food system.

According to The PUNCH  the ex-African nations’ leaders gave the warning in a publication on the International Fund for Agricultural Development’s website on Thursday.

They emphasized that COVID-19 response should be focused on food security, agribusiness, and rural development as the continent could be the worst hit from the economic fallout of COVID-19.

African countries were also cautioned against neglecting the rural poor in the publication, which they co-authored. Excerpts from the publication read:

“Africa has so far escaped the worst health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the continent looks like it could be the worst hit from the economic fallout of the crisis: 80 million Africans could be pushed into extreme poverty if action is not taken. And disruptions in food systems raise the prospect of more Africans falling into hunger.

“Rural people, many of whom work on small-scale farms, are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of the crisis. It is therefore vital that the COVID-19 response addresses food security and target the rural poor.

“Agriculture contributes 65 per cent of Africa’s employment and 75 per cent of its domestic trade. However, the rich potential of agriculture as a tool to promote food security and fight poverty is at risk from the effects of COVID-19.”

The importance of agriculture on the African economy in the publication was also examined as it was stressed that efforts must be made to prevent food shortage.