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President Muhammadu Buhari
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru – Abuja
The Presidency in Abuja on Thursday lament that the recent upsurge in food prices was gravitating to a food crisis that could threaten Nigeria’s food security.
The Presidency also said that though many factors were responsible for the increasing food prices, information from stakeholders within the agricultural sector showed that there was a decline in recent days.
Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, who raised the alarm on the hike at food prices in his remarks at the National Food Security Council meeting at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, said that his office on Wednesday, met with the agricultural commodity association, to ascertain the root causes of the recent spike in food prices.
He also said that the meeting was to adopt a strategy that could bring a solution to the potential crisis.
Prof. Gambari expressed optimism that with determination, coordination, and hard work, the administration would weather the storm and ensure stability and improvement.
According to him, “The recent surge of national food prices is gradually evolving into a food crisis with the ability to threaten the nation’s food security.
“Yesterday (Wednesday), my office as the secretariat of the 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 an 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 is 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.”
He said that with President Muhammadu Buhari being presented at the meeting and also being somebody who knows about farming and agriculture more than many of them at the meeting, his presence was very instructive in addressing not just the hike and transient nature and pricing of foodstuff but also to underscore the importance the administration placed on national food security.
He said, “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 clinical off-season period phenomenon, the COVID-19 pandemic, and infrastructure challenges, the importance of collaboration can still not be overemphasized.
“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 expectations.”
The meeting was attended by President Buhari, six governors each from the six geopolitical zones, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and some key government functionaries.