The country’s skyrocketing food prices, according to Minister of Agriculture Mohammed Abubakar, are a reflection of the global economic value chain system.
This comes as he revealed that the national strategic grain reserve currently houses 60,000 metric tons of grain stored in silos.
This occurs at a time when the grain reserve, which was over 79,277 metric tons, was dispersed in part by the federal government to protect Nigerians who are most at risk from the COVID-19 pandemic between 2020 and 2021.
The revelation was made by Abubakar on Thursday at the Ministerial Media Briefing hosted by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The Agriculture Minister also bragged that the current administration’s strong agricultural strategy had resulted in the creation of 3.6 million indirect jobs worth $1.113 billion (or around N461.9 billion) in externally funded projects.
In order to assist inclusive and sustainable agricultural development in Nigeria, he disclosed that $538 million had been allocated for special agricultural processing zones.
He claims that another $575 million initiative is currently being carried out to enhance rural access and agricultural marketing in participating states while building the institutional foundation for financing the efficient creation, upkeep, and management of the network of rural roads.
Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Kwara, Kebbi, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Plateau, and Sokoto were listed as the participating states.
The minister pointed out that the government is also putting the Value Chain Development Programme Additional Financing (VCDP-AF) 2020–2024 into effect. This program’s goal is to increase, on a sustainable basis, the incomes and food security of low-income rural households involved in the production, processing, and marketing of rice and cassava.
He disclosed that nine states, including Niger, Benue, Ogun, Ebonyi, Taraba and Anambra, Nasarawa, Kogi and Enugu, are now carrying out the project “to scale up the achievement recorded in the original VCDP states.”
But responding to speculations of soaring food prices despite these spirited interventions of government, Abubakar said they were not peculiar challenges to Nigeria, rather it was a reflection of global economic value chain system.
He said Nigeria being part of the international community is exploring ways to manage the situation to suit its own peculiarities as a nation. However, in response to claims that food prices were skyrocketing despite the government’s zealous efforts, Abubakar claimed that these claims were unfounded and that Nigeria was not the source of these problems; rather, they were a result of the global economic value chain system.
He claimed that Nigeria, as a member of the world community, is looking for methods to handle the crisis in accordance with its unique characteristics as a country.
“We released about 70,000MT (2,333) trucks of Assorted Food Commodities (AFC) approved by Mr. President to cushion the effect of COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 to the vulnerable populace in the 36 states and FCT.
“This was followed by the release of 5,000MT of maize to Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) to stabilise the hike in price of maize in the open market and to ensure that PAN members remain in business, in 2020.
In addition, an emergency release of 1,480MT of various food commodities was made in 2020 to feed IDPs in the states of Kaduna and Katsina.
“Currently releasing 40,000MT of assorted food commodities approved by Mr. President to the vulnerable populace, IDPs through Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, religious bodies and Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) to cushion the effect of high price of food commodities, currently, the National Food Stock balance is 60,000MT of Assorted Food Commodities after the releases”.
Regarding the effects of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, the agriculture minister remarked that while COVID-19 and the lack of security in some areas of the nation pose challenges to the agricultural industry, the government’s short- and medium-term plans are having the desired effects.
In order to create and carry out its mandate, FMARD, he said, is taking a multi-stakeholder approach, with increased private sector involvement in agriculture and ongoing attempts to lessen tedium and increase value addition.
“The success of any agricultural policy and interventions, however, rests on synergy among federal MDAs, and between federal, states and local governments.”