Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhmmadu Buhari is currently meeting with members of the National Food Security Council (NFSC) in the Council Chambers of the State House, Abuja.
The meeting, which is being attended by six of the seven governor-members, relevant ministers, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria and other senior government functionaries, among others, is to discuss strategies to avoid food crisis.
The meeting, which also has the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (retd), in attendance, is also to address the demands of the the leaders of agricultural commodity association, that the sector be better coordinated and synergised.
Governors at the event include Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, who is also the Vice Chairman of the Council; Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos; Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa; Simon Lalong of Plateau; Darius Ishaku of Taraba; and Dave Umahi of Ebonyi.
Among ministers in attendance are those of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed; Trade, Industry and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sani Nanono; Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola; Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq; and that ofWater Resources, Engr Suleiman Adamu.
Other senior officials present are the Director-General of the Department of State Service (DSS), Yusuf Bichi; the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufa’i Abubakar; and the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (rted), are also in attendance.
Speaking during the opening session before the meeting went into closed doors, the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari, said the current price increases are transient as the prices are expected to crash as new grains come into the market.
‘The recent surge of national food prices is gradually evolving to a food crisis with the ability to threaten the nation’s food security,’ he said.
‘Yesterday (Wednesday), my office as the secretariat National Food Security Council, met with the all agricultural commodity association, to ascertain the root causes of the recent spike in food prices and craft mitigating strategies to what could be a potential crisis.
‘Although various concerns were raised of the root cause of increase in commodity cost, we have been informed that prices are actually on the decline as new grains have been introduced to the market.
‘For example, new maize which was previously sold for N25,000 per bag is now being sold between N12,000 and N17,000 and it’s expected to fall between N7,000 and N8,000 per bad by November 2020, according to the various leaders of agricultural commodity association. The price decline has also been experienced in millet, beans and sorghum. The hike therefore is to be seen as a transient situation.
‘With Mr President being among us, as somebody who knows about farming and agriculture perhaps more than many of us in the room, we believe his presence is very instructive in addressing not just this hike and transient nature and pricing of foodstuff but also to underscore the importance he personally and as Mr. President and his administration attaches to the issue of national food security.
‘However, it is important to note that the most prevailing concern of the various leaders of the agricultural commodity association, was their demand that there should be better coordination, synergy and cooperation across the sector, this has been largely accounted for the gross misinformation and nationwide speculation which is being experienced.
‘Not disregarding the impact of other value triggers such as the cyclical-off season period phenomenon, the COVID-19 pandemic and infrastructure challenges, the importance of collaboration can still not be overemphasised.
‘As I welcome all participants to this crucial gathering, I urge that we all work hand in hand to ensure the protection of our nation’s food basket. Agriculture is a major priority for this administration and the crucial driver for the development of the nation. Therefore, the growth of the sector leaves no room for complacency and there is still a long arduous road to go before achieving those goals. However with determination, coordination and hard work, we have the capacity and will therefore demonstrate the wherewithal to our exceed our expectation.’