The federal government has ordered the immediate release of 102,000 metric tonnes of grains — 42,000 metric tonnes of maize and 60,000 metric tonnes of rice.
This is just as the government has proposed to embark on importation of whatever shortfalls that may be experienced to augment food shortage.
Mohammed Idris, the minister of information and national orientation, stated this while fielding questions from State House Journalists, after the meeting of the Presidential Food Initiative at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Minister said the government has directed the release of 42,000 metric tonnes of maize and 60,000 metric tonnes of rice.
He said the President has directed that food will be made available, by whatever means it will take”.
The decision came after a three days deliberation by the committee, in reaction to the protests by Nigerians over high cost of food and other economic challenges.
He assured that the government will not fold its arms and see the way Nigerians are suffering in terms of the availability of these food items.
The meeting was attended by Nuhu Ribadu, the national security adviser (NSA); Yemi Cardoso, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN); Tahir Mamman, Minister of education; Wale Edun; Minister of Finance and Abubakar Kyari, Minister of Agriculture, as well as Mustapha Shehuri, minister of state for agriculture, are in attendance.
The Federal Government had in a similar move in August last year, gave a similar directives for the release of 200,000 Metric Tonnes of grains from strategic reserves to households across the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to moderate the higher food prices in the country.
President Bola Tinubu while giving the order, stated that the government was also providing 225,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer, seedlings, and other inputs to farmers who are committed to the nation’s food security agenda.
Speaking after the meeting of the Presidential Committee, Idris said the meeting was again addressed the challenges of putting food on the table of most Nigerians, adding that ” It has come up with a number of measures to ensure that food becomes more readily available to Nigerians.
” The first one is that the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security has been directed to release about 42,000 metric tons of maize, millet, garri and other commodities in their strategic reserve so that these items will be made available to Nigerians; 42000 metric tons immediately.
”The second one is that we have held meetings with the rice Millers Association of Nigeria, those who are responsible for producing this rice and we have asked them to open up their stores.
“They’ve told us that they can guarantee about 60,000 metric tons of rice. This will be made available and we know that that is enough to take Nigerians the next one month to six weeks, perhaps up to two months.
“They’ve agreed that they will make that available to Nigerians to bring it out to the market so that food made available.
”Now the whole idea of this is to crash the cost of these food items. And these are measures that will happen immediately.
idris disclosed that the 42,000 metric tons will come from the strategic government reserve, while about 60,000 metric tons of rice from the rice Millers Association
” They have them in all their storage facilities and government in conjunction with them after this exhaustive meeting, has directed that they also bring this out immediately so that you food, I mean the price of rice will come down significantly.
“Now the third item is that the government is also looking at the possibility, if it becomes absolutely necessary as an interim measure on the short run to also import some of these commodities immediately so that these commodities can be made available to Nigerians immediately within the next couple of weeks.”
” Now, we all know that dry season farming is happening, that will take effect very shortly, and that we hope will also contribute, because as soon as the dry season farming gets underway, it is the hope of government that food prices will also also come down.
The government said with the measures, it is expected that the cost of food items will be reduced in the market
“Like I said, these are all measures that are taken to immediately, and as an emergency measure bring down the cost of food items. In the long run Federal Ministry of Agriculture is going to invest massively, so that Nigeria will recover its potential as a food basket and we don’t expect that going forward we are going to be faced with these challenges again.
“Now government of course is also looking at all those who are hoarding these commodities because actually these commodities are available in the stores of many traders.
“Government is appealing to them, that they should open up these stores, make these commodities available in the interest of our nation. There is no point when the whole country is looking for this food, you are locking up these products so that you can make more money and then Nigerians suffer.
“Of course government will not fold its arms. We know where all these major traders are. We know where all these major stores are. And if they don’t respond by bringing these commodities to the market, government will take appropriate measures to ensure that these products are made available to Nigerians.
” The President has directed that whatever it will take, food will be available to Nigerians at a cost that is also very reasonable. And that is what the summary of this meeting entails”.