By Festus Fifen
The Federal Government on Thursday declared a state of emergency in the food sector in Nigeria.
Presidential spokesman Dele Alake stated this while briefing State House Correspondents on the immediate steps being taken by the President Tinubu led Administration to cushion the efforts of the inflation as a result of the fuel subsidy removal.
Accompanied by the stakeholders in the food and Agriculture Value Chain, Alake said “As a hands-on- leader who follows developments across the country everyday, Mr. President is not unmindful of the rising cost of food and how it affects the citizens. While availability is not a problem, affordability has been a major issue to many Nigerians in all parts of the country. This has led a significant drop in demand thereby undermining the viability of the entire agriculture and food value chain.”
Mr. Alake noted that in line with this administration’s position on ensuring that the most vulnerable are supported, President Bola Tinubu has declared, with immediate effect the following actions which includes, That a state of emergency on food security be announced immediately, and that all matters pertaining to food & water availability and affordability, as essential livelihood items, be included within the purview of the National Security Council.
In his words, ” as a direct and immediate response to this crisis, a number of initiatives will be deployed in the coming weeks to reverse this inflationary trend and guarantee future uninterrupted supplies of affordable foods to ordinary Nigerians.
” As with most emergencies, there are immediate, medium- and long-term interventions and solutions.
” In the immediate term, we intend to deploy some savings from the fuel subsidy removal into the Agricultural sector focusing on revamping the agricultural sector.”
The presidential spokesman hinted that President Tinubu had earlier met with Agriculture Stakeholders in the Statehouse where salient issues concerning food security were discussed.
” In an earlier meeting with Agriculture Stakeholders (today), we drafted a memorandum of partnership between the government and the individual stakeholder representatives that encompasses the decisions taken and actions proposed from our engagements.”
As a direct and immediate response to this crisis, a number of initiatives will be deployed in the coming weeks to reverse this inflationary trend and guarantee future uninterrupted supplies of affordable foods to ordinary Nigerians.
As with most emergencies, there are immediate, medium- and long-term interventions and solutions.
In the immediate term, we intend to deploy some savings from the fuel subsidy removal into the Agricultural sector focusing on revamping the agricultural sector.
According to Alake the immediate intervention strategies includes, immediately release fertilizers and grains to farmers and households to mitigate the effects of the subsidy removal, an urgent synergy between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Water Resources to ensure adequate irrigation of farmlands and to guarantee that food is produced all-year round, creation and support of a National Commodity Board that will review and continuously assess food prices as well as maintain a strategic food reserve that will be used as a price stabilisation mechanism for critical grains and other food items.
Alake said ” through this board, government will moderate spikes and dips in food prices.
“To achieve this, we have the following stakeholders on board to support the intervention effort of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu: The National Commodity Exchange (NCX), Seed Companies, National Seed Council and Research institutes, NIRSAL Microfinance Bank, Food Processing/ Agric Processing associations, private sector holders & Prime Anchors, small holder farmers, crop associations and Fertilizer producers, blenders and suppliers associations to mention a few.”
The plan also includes engaging security architecture to protect the farms and the farmers so that farmers can return to the farmlands without fear of attacks, activation of land banks with 500,000 hectares of land already mapped out that will be used to increase availability of arable land for farming which will immediately impact food output.
” Indeed, agriculture already accounts for about 35.21 percent of employment in Nigeria (as at 2021), the target is to double this percentage to about 70% in the long term.
” President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s mandate to create jobs for our teeming youth population will be achieved with between 5 to 10 million more jobs created within the value chain, working with the current 500,000 hectares of arable land and the several hundreds of thousands more farmlands to be developed in the medium term.” Alake said
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