Nigerian Government Directs Release of 102,000 metric tons of grains

By Temitope Mustapha, Abuja

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The Nigerian government has directed the immediate release of 102,000 metric tons of  food items as an instant measure to address food shortage in the country.

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris stated this while addressing State House Correspondents on the 3rd meeting of the Special Presidential Committee on Emergency Food Intervention.

The Minister also said that the government will mete-out appropriate measures on food hoarders, adding that emergency situations requires emergency measures to ensure food is available to Nigerians.

Idris emphasized that the President directed the Committee to do whatever it takes to ensure availability of food for Nigerians at reasonable cost.

He explained that the Federal government has directed the release of 42,000 metric tons of maize, millet and Garri and other commodities from the strategic reserve, adding that this would be made available to Nigerians immediately.

Speaking on the second immediate measure, the Minister revealed that the Committee secured commitment of the Rice millers Association of Nigeria to provide 60,000 metric tons of rice, he said the committee believes this would sustain Nigerians for two to three months .

“We have held meetings with the Rice Millers Association of Nigeria, those who are responsible for producing this rice and we have asked them to open up their stores, they have told us that they can guarantee about 60,000 metric tons of rice. This will be made available and we know that that is enough to take Nigeria, you know, in the next couple of weeks, one month, six weeks, perhaps up to two months.”

He stated that the essence of meeting the Rice Millers Association is to crash the cost of food items in the Nigerian market.

According to the Minister, “Rice Millers Association has agreed to supply these to the Nigerian market so as to make food available… Now the whole idea of this is to crush the cost of these food items. And these are measures that will happen immediately.”

Idris disclosed that the federal government is considering importing food to augment locally available ones where necessary. He said this is to quickly avert the shortage of food confronting the nation.

“Government is also looking at the possibility of you know, if it becomes absolutely necessary, as and as an interim measure, on the short run to also import some of these commodities immediately so that these commodities can be made available to Nigerians immediately within the next couple of weeks.”

Long Term Measures

On the need for partnership between the Federal government and Nigerian Farmers, the Minister of Information stated that the government has further issued directive to the Minister of Agriculture to invest massively in food production in conjunction with farmers Associations.

“In the long run. Like I said the Minister of agriculture is going to invest massively, so that Nigeria will recover its potential as a food basket and we don’t expect that going forward, we are going to be faced with these challenges again.”

The Minister called on Food Traders Association to open their stores for purchase, warning that the government after appealing to the traders would mete sanctions on erring individuals.

“Even some commodities that do not have direct dollar denomination you know always quoted in dollar that is unfortunate. We ask that Nigerians need to be more patriotic. Be our brothers keepers. Sell this thing of course at the margin, but as a margin that is not also killing to Nigerians.

“This is an emergency situation. In the world, many countries of the world have faced this, this is our own time to face this challenge. Government is going to respond adequately”.

The Minister of Information called on Nigerians to be patriotic and desist from hoarding food while the government deliberately invest massively in food production.