President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the release of about 40,000 metric tonnes of assorted grains from the Strategic Grains Reserve to cushion the effect of the surge in food prices on Nigerians.
The development was disclosed by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Muhammad Abubakar when he briefed State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting with the President at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
According to Abubakar, the grains were being released to cushion the effects of rising prices of commodities, especially during the Easter and Ramadan festive periods.
He noted that 12,000 metric tonnes of the grains would be released to the Ministry of Humanitarian, Disaster Management and Social Development for distribution, while the grains would be distributed using the model used in early 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdown.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government distributed about 70,000 metric tonnes of assorted food items across some states and the Federal Capital Territory.
Abubakar said, “I’m here this afternoon as a result of summoning by His Excellency, Mr President, President Muhammadu Buhari. He directed and approved the release of grains from our Strategic grain Reserve by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
“This is to cushion the effect of some of the issues we are facing with high prices of commodities across the country and the festivities -Ramadan, Easter, Sallah-so that there will be a little cushion for the people during these festivities.
“Not just us, the Federal Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, but also that we’ll be giving some of these grains also to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs to also do the same distribution, the grain is coming from our Strategic Grains Reserve, as directed by Mr President,” he said.
When asked about the kind of grains the Federal Government would be doling out to cushion the scarcity, Abubakar said, “Usually, we have sorghum, maize, millet and the rest of them. We will be releasing an assortment of grains that are in our grain reserves. They are located across the entire country is probably the six geopolitical zones; we have grain silos.”
Meanwhile, the minister blamed the insecurity in the North-West and North-Central for the country’s shrinking capacity to produce some food products. However, he noted that the government was doing its best to prevent a decline in food production.
“Certainly, some measure of insecurity might affect a bit of agriculture. However, as you can see, there’s no sharp drop in productivity in agricultural production. There’s still food, and people are still cultivating in all parts of the country.
“Some of the areas where it has some security implication, yes, it may have a slight drop, but the government is doing everything humanly possible to make sure that production continues in other parts and even areas where there are issues, the government is doing whatever it takes.
“Like in the Ministry of Agriculture, we have agro rangers who sometimes provide some kind of security cover that will make sure food production does not stop. I can assure you that we don’t have problems with food production at this point,” he added.