Tue. May 28th, 2024

By Jimmy Fatunbi

President Bola Tinubu has reiterated its support for the agricultural sector to fight food insecurity in the country.

Dele Alake, special adviser to the president on special duties, communications and strategy, made the disclosure to state house correspondents on Thursday after a meeting Tinubu had with stakeholders on agriculture and food production value-chain.

He said the president is not unmindful of the rising cost of food and how it affects the citizens.

Disclosing the details of the presidential intervention on food security, food pricing and sustainability to journalists, Alake explained that measures in the action plan will include an immediate release of fertilisers and grains to farmers and households to ease the pains of the petrol subsidy removal.⁣

He said the president has approved that all matters pertaining to food and water availability and affordability, as essential livelihood items, be included within the purview of the national security council (NSC).

“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,” Alake said.

“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.

“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.

“The immediate intervention strategies are as follows:

1. We will immediately release fertilizers and grains to farmers and households to mitigate the effects of the subsidy removal.

2. There must be 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.

As a country, Mr. President has made it clear that we cannot be comfortable with seasonal farming. We can no longer afford to have farming down times.

3. We shall create and support 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.

“Through this board, government will moderate spikes and dips in food prices.”

The special adviser said the board would consist of stakeholders from the National Commodity Exchange (NCX), seed companies, National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) research institutes, NIRSAL microfinance bank, food processing/ agric processing associations, among others.

“We will engage our security architecture to protect the farms and the farmers so that farmers can return to the farmlands without fear of attacks,” Alake said.

“The Central Bank will continue to play a major role of funding the agricultural value chain.

“Activation of land banks. There is currently 500,000 hectares of already mapped land that will be used to increase availability of arable land for farming which will immediately impact food output.

“Mechanization and land clearing- The government will also collaborate with mechanization companies to clear more forests & make them available for farming.

“River basins- there are currently 11 river basins that will ensure planting of crops during the dry season with irrigation schemes that will guarantee continuous farming production all year round, to stem the seasonal glut and scarcity that we usually experience.

“We will deploy concessionary capital/funding to the sector especially towards fertilizer, processing, mechanization, seeds, chemicals, equipment, feed, labour, etc.”

He listed other interventions that the government will put in place to tackle the food crisis to include exploring better means of transportation and storage; increasing revenue from food and agricultural exports; and trade facilitation.

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