Food Security: Economic Council considers solutions

Timothy Choji, Abuja

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The National Economic Council (NEC) has taken bold steps to ensure food security and put an end to the economic challenges confronting Nigeria

Some of the solutions being considered include making fertilizer available to farmers and the establishment of Agro-Rangers to tackle insecurity in farms.

The decision was taken on Thursday during the 139th meeting of the Council held virtually and chaired by Vice President Kashim Shettima.

Collective Effort 

Addressing the Council, the Vice President said with collective efforts in developing a clear and actionable roadmap through short-term, medium, and long-term strategies, Nigeria will overcome its economic challenges in the country.

Following a presentation by the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari, on food security in the country, Vice President Shettima directed a meeting of the federal government with major fertilizer producers in the country, including Indorama, Dangote and Notore.

NEC noted that fertiliser is a major ingredient of agricultural productivity which the government is striving to attain and urged the state governors to embrace modern agricultural practices to increase productivity.

Rangers

the Council also considered the establishment of Agro-Rangers in the short-term and the possible creation of state police in the long-term to address security threats on farmers.

Grains

The government is also planning to release 42,000 metric tonnes of food commodities from the National Strategic Reserve to address rising prices.

The Minister of Agriculture called for action against dollarization of locally produced commodities like urea, which is impacting negatively on fertilizer prices and agricultural productivity.

Meanwhile, Vice President Shettima has called for sound economic decisions that would tally with the expectations of Nigerians.

He expressed hope that with collective efforts in developing a clear and actionable roadmap through short-term, medium, and long-term strategies, Nigeria will overcome its current economic challenges.

The Vice President also regretted that Nigeria had been a victim of strong averseness to evolving and keeping up with the changing global economic order, leading to a situation where making difficult decisions to maximize its potential has become inevitable.

“We must either redirect the economy towards a place of boom and competitiveness or brace for an impact we are unlikely to survive. So, beyond the heritage of our financial and monetary fiascos, we must compare notes to understand the interconnectedness of the dysfunctions in each sector of the economy,” he stated.

Delivering his opening speech titled, “It’s Time To Speed Up Our Prosperity Quest,” VP Shettima told council members that it is President Bola Tinubu’s desire that they all stand together to collectively proffer solutions to safeguard the nation’s economy from imminent implosion.

He observed that while the wealth of every nation is in the belly of its citizens, the government has a long distance to cover in its interventions to enhance “food availability and affordability.

“The call to secure and liberate areas under threat from violence, most of which are arable lands owned by our farming communities, is not just a matter of security but a strategic move to revive the economic lifeblood of our nation,” he added.

Noting that the citizens are only keen about tangible results, the VP stated: “Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, while economic experts foresaw this transitional phase on our journey to a flourishing future, it is crucial to recognize that the ordinary citizen on the street is not concerned with any economic theory. Their daily concerns are anchored in the tangible.

 “They are more invested in the price of maize than the predictions of GDP. So, as we deliberate on intricate economic strategies today, let us remain attuned to the heartbeat of the nation. We must ensure that our decisions resonate with the aspirations of the common man and woman who entrust us with their hopes and dreams.”

The Minister of Finance, Wale Edun, informed the Council that the balance of the nation’s Excess Crude Account stood at $ 473, 754.57.

He added that the Natural Resources account balance is N114, 343, 535, 696.46 while that of stabilization account is N34, 315,780, 894. 45.