President Bola Tinubu on Thursday declared a state of emergency on food security as the Federal Government stepped up efforts to tackle food inflation following the removal of fuel subsidies.
Tinubu also approved that all matters pertaining to food and water availability as well as affordability, as essential livelihood items, be included within the purview of the National Security Council.
Special Adviser to the President on Special Duties, Communications, and Strategy, Dele Alake, disclosed this to State House correspondents on Thursday, after consultations with key stakeholders in the agricultural sector value chain at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Alake was accompanied to the briefing by the Special Adviser to the President on Revenue, Zacheaus Adedeji; Special Adviser on Industry, Trade and Investment, John Uwajumogu; Acting Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Wale Adeniyi; a member of the Presidential Advisory Council, Dr Dorris Anite, among others.
Explaining the development, the Presidential aide said, “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 for many Nigerians in all parts of the country.
“This has led to a significant drop in demand, thereby undermining the viability of the entire agriculture and food value chain.
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“Accordingly, in line with this administration’s position on ensuring that the most vulnerable are supported, Mr. President has declared, with immediate effect, the following actions: That a state of emergency on food security be announced immediately, and 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.”
To address the challenges, the administration intends to deploy some savings from the fuel subsidy removal into the agricultural sector, focusing on revamping it. Alake cited existing data that agriculture already accounts for about 35.21 percent of employment in Nigeria, with the long-term target being to double this percentage to about 70 percent.
The immediate interventions include the release of fertilizers and grains to farmers and households to mitigate the effects of the subsidy removal. The President emphasized that the country can no longer afford seasonal farming and called for synergy between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Water Resources to ensure adequate irrigation of farmlands and year-round food production.
The Federal Government will create a commodity board to monitor and control food prices and establish ranches in collaboration with willing state governments for livestock farming. Land banks nationwide, comprising 500,000 hectares, will be activated to increase the availability of arable land for farming.
The distribution of grains to farmers and households will be free of charge, and the Central Bank of Nigeria has advised middlemen to release their grain supplies to stabilize prices.
The government plans to improve the transportation and storage of farm products, exploring alternative means such as rail and water transport to reduce freight costs. Existing warehouses and tanks will be revamped to ensure the efficient preservation of food items. The aim is to increase revenue from food and agricultural exports.
The administration is committed to job creation, aiming to create between five to 10 million more jobs within the agricultural value chain. The government encourages all Nigerians to partner in ensuring the success of this strategic intervention and pledges to work diligently to ensure that essential needs are met.