…Blames rising prices on inflation, Covid-19
…Not convinced pastoralists intentionally unleash their herds on farms
…Nigeria issues travel advisory to Nigerians visiting US, UK
Despite rising food prices in the country, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, said on Monday that the country has enough food to feed all Nigerians.
Speaking in Abuja while presenting the ministry’s scorecard for 2015-2023, the minister however blamed the rising cost of basic food stuffs in the country on inflation and the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic that forced many countries including Nigeria to shut down key economic activities for many months.
The minister said that while it was not peculiar to Nigeria to import certain categories of foods, the federal ministry of agriculture would continue to produce food to take care of its large population in line with the mandate to do so and improve rural development.
The minister announced that in order to improve food stock in the country, the ministry is currently constructing ten large scale integrated rice mills with 320 metric tonnes capacity per day in Jigawa, Kano, Adamawa, Niger, Kaduna, Gombe, Ekiti, Ogun, Bayelsa and the Federal Capital Territory in addition to supporting the production and distribution of breeder, foundation and certified rice seeds for farmers.
In the same vein, the minister said that presidential fertilizer initiative, which was launched in 2016 has increased the number of fertilizer plants from eight to 200 and raised production from 300,000 metric tonnes to 7 million metric tonnes.
He also blamed the jerk in the prices of fertilizer on inflation and the inability of the producers of raw materials to do so due to the disruption caused by Covid-19.
“The minister said: “We have enough food to take care of Nigerians. We are producing food across the country and we will continue to do so to feed Nigerians in line with our mandate and expedite the transformation of the rural communities of Nigeria.
“The fact that some categories of food are imported by Nigeria is not an indication that we have food shortages. The high cost of food that we experience in the country is as a result of rising inflation, which is not peculiar to Nigeria but due to the Covid-19 pandemic that forced many sectors of economic production to be shut down for many months.
“As it is today, many parts of the world, including our own country are yet to fully recover from the negative effects of the pandemic, which has triggered inflation and high food costs across the world,” he said.
Dr. Abubakar also boasted that the ministry had improved the quantity of food, fish and animal production and increased the capacity of food storage facilities to hold more food for Nigerians in case of emergency.
Abubakar announced that the ministry is also constructing two 2000 metric tonnes specialized warehouse for the storage of food commodities at federal government retained silo complexes in Irrua, Edo State and Ilesha, Osun State.
The minister said in a bid to ensure that the country had enough food to eat, the ministry has procured 79,277.30 metric tonnes of food commodities between 2020 and 2021 to replenish the national strategic reserve that was depleted by Covid-19 release and relief to the Poultry Association of Nigeria in 2021.
Responding to a journalist’s question on herders’ attacks on farmlands, the minister said he was unsure of pastoralists intentionally unleash their cattle, assuring that the federal government had begun moves to put an end to such conflicts.
According to Abubakar, one of the measures to checkmate herders’/farmers’ conflicts is the introduction of the National Livestock Development Programme and the proposal to have ranching and grazing reserves across the country.
The Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who coordinated the briefing, said that despite the rising of fertilizer globally, Nigeria has been able to stabilize the cost of providing the vital input to farmers by increasing the number of blending plants in the country.
At the press conference, the minister issued a travel advisory to its citizens travelling to the United States and Europe.
Mohammed said that the advisory was prompted by attack on Nigerians in London and the stealing of their belongings, including passports and money in some cities of Europe and America.
Mohammed said: “It has come to the attention of the government that
Nigerian travelers to the United States and some countries in Europe are having their belongings, especially, money and international passports, stolen at an increasingly high
“The most recent victims of this are travelers to the UK, most of whom were dispossessed of their belongings at highbrow shops, particularly in the high street of Oxford.
” We have therefore decided to advise Nigerians travelling to Europe and the United States to take extra precaution to avoid being dispossessed of their belongings.
“This is not your typical travel advisory. Issuing such is the prerogative of our embassies/high commissions as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is merely a piece of advice to Nigerians who may be visiting the affected parts of the world,” the minister said.