The Federal Government on Thursday issued a directive for the immediate release of 102,000 metric tonnes of rice, maize, millet, and garri from government reserves and the stocks of rice millers to the Nigerian market, to tackle the persistent issue of high food prices.
This decision was the culmination of the three-day meeting of the Special Presidential Committee on Emergency Food Intervention, chaired by the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, which concluded in Abuja.
Following the meeting, Mohammed Idris, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, on Thursday briefed reporters, stating that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security would provide 42,000 metric tonnes of maize, millet, garri, and other commodities, while the rice millers, through their association, would release 62,000 metric tonnes of rice from their reserves.
The Minister added that these were immediate measures taken by the Federal Government to reduce the hardships faced by Nigerians who are made to bear the brunt of high prices of food in the market.
“These will be made available and we know that that is enough to take Nigeria in the next couple of weeks. One month, six weeks, perhaps up to two months. They have agreed that they will make that available to Nigerians to bring it out to the market so that food can be made available.
“Now the whole idea of this is to crush the cost of these food items. And these are measures that will happen immediately.
“Now, the third item is that government is also looking at the possibility of, if it becomes necessary and as an interim measure, to also import some of these commodities immediately so that these commodities can be made available to Nigerians,” he said.
Idris also said that the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security would further invest massively in the farming process to boost production and ensure the country’s food potential is fully exploited.
He said that the government would appeal to persons or groups to stop hoarding these products to maximise profit to the detriment of ordinary Nigerians.
“Government of course is also looking at all those who are hoarding these commodities because actually, these commodities are available in the stores of many traders.
“Government is appealing to them that they should open up these doors and make these commodities available in the interest of our nation.
“There is no point when the whole country is looking for this food you are locking up these products where you make more money and then Nigerians suffer. Of course, the government will not fold its arms.
“If they don’t respond by bringing these commodities to the market, the government will take appropriate measures to ensure that these products are made available to Nigerians.”
The Minister said that the government would also take measures to ensure that food continues to be accessible and affordable to Nigerians.
“We ask that Nigerians need to be more patriotic; be our brother’s keepers. Sell this thing, of course at a margin but at a margin that is not also killing Nigerians.
“This is an emergency. Every nation faces emergencies. This is our own time to face these challenges.
“The President has directed that whatever it will take, food will be available to Nigerians at a cost that is also very reasonable,” he said.
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