The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Nigeria on Monday launched a COVID-19 Food Security Challenge that will provide $3 million in grant funding and technical assistance to youth-led and mid-stage companies working in food value chains in Nigeria.
USAID said the Challenge will award 15 to 25 youth-led companies up to $75,000 each and award 10 to15 mid-stage companies up to $150,000 each. Winners will receive funding and technical assistance to rapidly expand their activities to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 on Nigeria’s food value chain and improve the resilience of vulnerable households to the negative impacts of the pandemic. You can apply here between today, April 12, 2021, and May 9, 2021, at 5:00 p.m. West African Time (GMT+1).
“We are launching the COVID-19 Food Security Challenge to help innovative Nigerians alleviate food insecurity,” USAID Mission Director Anne Patterson said. “This assistance encourages private sector-led solutions to boost food production, processing, and create market linkage along the agriculture value chain in a sustainable way across Nigeria.”
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, Nigeria was already experiencing food insecurity in many parts of the country, especially in the northeast due to insecurity and Lake Chad drying up.
The United Nations in its latest report listed Nigeria, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Yemen and several other countries in Africa as most hungry nations in the world.
The World Food Program 2021 hunger hotspot report warned that families and individuals in those countries, several of them in Sub-Saharan Africa, were at imminent risk of starvation and death.
The cause of acute hunger differs from country to country. In Yemen, a raging war has left millions of people without basic amenities including food. In Nigeria, key drivers of food insecurity include internal conflict and economic decline, and in Ethiopia, it is caused by conflict, desert locusts, extreme weather and macro-economic challenges. In South Sudan, it is caused by conflict and hunger.
USAID said Nigeria’s food insecurity has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the food value chain in the country.
“The pandemic has disrupted already fragile agricultural value chains, especially smallholder farmers’ ability to produce, process, and distribute food. This disrupts agricultural productivity and markets, and negatively impacts livelihoods, especially among vulnerable households, women, and youth.
“In launching the Challenge, USAID seeks commercially viable youth-led and mid-stage companies already working in food production, processing, and distribution. Successful applicants will present ideas that demonstrably help farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural value chain increase agricultural productivity and food security within the next six months,” the U.S. agency added.