On Thursday, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Muhammad Abubakar, began distributing emergency food supplies to the country’s most vulnerable citizens.
Federal ministries, poultry groups, feed millers, and individuals in need of food are among those who would profit from the handout.
- This comes after President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent order to release 40,000 metric tons (MT) of grains from the National Strategic Grains Reserves (SGR) to disadvantaged Nigerians in order to mitigate the consequences of rising food prices.
The depletion of food supplies has reduced the value of the reserves to around 50,000MT, down from around 90,000MT earlier.
The minister, on the other hand, said that the president had approved cash for replenishing the food stocks.
According to the minister, the measure was made to mitigate the impact of rising commodity costs across the country, particularly as Ramadan, Easter, and Sallah approaches.
While the measures were temporary, Abubakar said the government would continue to take initiatives to keep food costs low.
The minister also mentioned how bandit attacks have uprooted numerous rural communities in several areas, interrupted their sources of income, and made them homeless.
He went on to say that some of the victims are currently seeking refuge in schools, mosques, and churches, while households are in desperate need of food aid to alleviate their sufferings as a result of unfathomable hardship and food scarcity.
He also said that rising maize prices on the open market had impacted the cost of producing chicken feeds and, as a result, the availability of the goods, putting the poultry sector, which had been a major employer for decades, in jeopardy.
High gasoline prices, insecurity, and the poor purchasing power of public employees, according to the minister, have made food availability difficult and problematic.
“In light of the foregoing, and as part of the federal government of Nigeria’s effort to ensure food security and alleviate poverty,” he said, “Mr. President, Muhammad Buhari has approved the release of 40,000MT of assorted food commodities from the National Strategic Reserve to vulnerable Nigerians to cushion the effects of rising food prices.”
Abubakar went on to say that the intervention would benefit low-income civil servants and as many others who needed help and that in carrying out Buhari’s directive, the ministry would work with the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, which would distribute about 12,000 metric tons, the Ministry of Women Affairs, the Ministry of Youths and Sports, and other strategic agencies to ensure a smooth distribution.
He went on to say that the administration wants to make sure that the assistance packages got to the people who needed them the most.
He also stated that the president has approved funding for the RGR to be restocked, and that “we are now refilling even as we are releasing.”
He emphasized that, while political commitment is critical in tackling the food security crisis, it is “not the whole solution.”
“It is a shared obligation to strengthen food systems and chains,” he says. Governments, industry, and consumers all play important roles in ensuring ‘farm to table’ food security, and they must all work together to achieve it.”
However, Mr. Sule Haruna, the Director of the SGR, said the country’s food reserves had been reduced to only about 32,000 metric tons after the federal government ordered the release of 70,000 metric tons of grains from the SGR as palliatives to vulnerable Nigerians in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He did say, though, that the stockpiles had been refilled to 90,000 metric tons since then, and he asked the government to keep intervening to further strengthen the food vault.