Food crisis: 42,000MT of grains being bagged for distribution, says Presidency

The Presidency on Friday revealed that the 42,000 metric tonnes of grains it promised for nationwide release two weeks ago are being bagged for distribution.

It added that the remaining 60,000 metric tonnes of grains will be purchased from the Rice Millers Association of Nigeria.

Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, Mr Bayo Onanuga, revealed this in a statement he signed Friday night titled, ‘Update on Tinubu administration’s efforts to ramp up  food supply in the country.’

As a temporary response to the nation’s growing food crisis and the rising price of commodities, President Bola Tinubu, on February 8, ordered the immediate release of 102,000 metric tons of various grain types from the Strategic Reserve and the Rice Millers Association of Nigeria.

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, revealed this to State House Correspondents after the final leg of three meetings of the Special Presidential Committee on Emergency Food Intervention at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

Deliberations began in earnest after angry youths and women took to the streets of Minna, the Niger State capital and Kano to protest what they described as the rising cost of living in the country. Similar protests also erupted in Ondo State, Nigeria’s southwest.

Giving updates on the strategy, the Presidency said, “The Tinubu administration  through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security is in the final stages of releasing 42,000 metric tonnes of assorted food commodities to support the vulnerable population across the country.”

“The grains in seven locations of strategic reserve, are now being bagged for onward delivery to the National Emergency Management Agency.”

Explaining reasons for the delayed distribution, Onanuga stated, “The need to bag the grains, caused the delay as the bags were freshly ordered by government,” adding that, “Nigerians will not need to pay for the  grain bags, as they are  free.”

This will be complemented by the 60,000 metric tonnes of milled rice to be purchased by the Federal Government from the Mega Rice Millers, explained the Presidency.

Citing remarks by the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari, it said with the announcement of the impending releases of food commodities from the Strategic Reserve, there is a noticeable reduction in commodity prices across major grains markets in the country.

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At the emergency meeting on February 8, the FG had revealed plans to inject a yet-to-be-disclosed amount of capital into dry-season farming to ensure a year-round food supply.

Idris explained, “There is a directive to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to invest massively in conjunction with Nigerian farmers and other producers so that we can have a better season coming up shortly.”

Giving updates on this, Onanuga said the first phase of the Dry Season Farming under the National Agricultural Growth Scheme Agro-Pocket Project kicked off in November 2023.

“It focuses on the cultivation of wheat across 15 wheat-producing states, covering 118,657 hectares and involving 107,429 farmers.

“The fields are green now and harvest will commence in a matter of weeks”, Kyari said.

“There are fantastic reports of growth of wheat from Jigawa State, which is now targeting harvest from about 50,000 hectares, 10,000 hectares more than initially allotted under the programme,” noted Onanuga.

The Presidency also said phase 2 of the dry season farming will commence soon, across all 36 states and the FCT.

“It will cover rice, maize, and cassava. For rice, the target is 250,000 hectares involving 500,000 farmers with the expected output of 1 million metric tons of paddy rice.

“For maize, we are cultivating 55,000 hectares with 110,000 farmers thereby adding 165,000 metric tons to national maize production while for cassava, we are doing 35,000 hectares with 70,000 farmers to produce 525,000 metric tons of cassava.

“The NAGS-AP Project offers a 50 per cent subsidy. However, the Federal Government is providing additional support for Phase 2, which will bring aggregate subsidy to about 93 per cent to farmers cultivating the crops,” it further explained.

While noting that various governors are showing strong support to further enhance the subsidy, it said FG-supplied solar-powered water pumps for irrigation are being deployed to aid the upcoming phase of the programme.

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