March 11, 2024

Hunger: If FG fails to secure farmers, food prices‘ll remain high – FACAN


We’re addressing food crisis, hardship —Govs

By Henry Umoru & Gabriel Ewepu

ABUJA- GOVERNORS of the thirty- six states, under the aegis of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, have said they were on top of the situation to address issues of food crisis, economic hardship and hunger in the country, introducing different strategies and measures.

The governors said they had taken several proactive steps to counter the present food crisis as well as the inherent economic hardships.

In a report signed by the Acting Head of Media, NGF, Halimah Salihu Ahmed, in Abuja yesterday, NGF said governors were committed to ending the pain and suffering of citizens in the land.

Recall that President Bola Tinubu had met with the state governors at the Council Chambers of Aso Rock Villa, Abuja in February, where issues of hike in food prices, economic hardship and others were discussed, with a view to proferring solutions.

According to the report of the NGF, Kwara State governor and chairman of the NGF, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, in collaboration with Governors Agbu Kefas of Taraba State; Lucky Aiyedatiwa of Ondo State; and Ahmed Ododo of Kogi State, pushed for increased crop production through the federal ministry of agriculture to address food shortages.

The report read: “In Akwa Ibom State, the government is planning to establish an agency which will buy food items in bulk and then sell them at cheaper prices to the residents.

“Towards this end, the Akwa Ibom State governor, Umo Eno, has forwarded to the House of Assembly a bill for the establishment of the agency.”

Quoting the spokesman of Akwa Ibom State governor, Ekerete Udoh, the report said Governor Eno appealed to residents to be patient, while promising to sign the bill into law when passed by the assembly.

Purchasing food items in bulk

It read further: “We will buy the food items in bulk and ensure that they are made available to our people at relatively lower prices. The process will be transparent. I want to thank the House of Assembly for the expeditious manner this bill is being treated.

‘’I want to assure our people that we feel their pain and are working hard to ensure that food security for our people is guaranteed.

“In the same vein, in Kano State, authorities raided warehouses where traders are suspected of hoarding food supplies.

“In Yobe State, the government banned bulk purchases of grain from local markets to stop hoarding and exports across Nigeria’s borders saying it was to ‘stem the tide of food scarcity and high cost of grains’.

Niger announces ban on bulk purchase

“In Niger State, Governor Mohammed Umar Bago announced a ban on the mass purchase of foodstuffs from local markets. He ordered security forces to confiscate trucks carrying products in bulk and “share the food to the people”.

“In Enugu State, Governor Peter Mbah said his administration will eradicate hunger and poverty in the state and unlock the rural economy through investment in agriculture and agro-industrialisation.

‘’Mbah, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Professor Chidiebere Onyia, said this during the celebration of the 2023 World Food Day in Enugu.

“The governor said the state government was intensifying efforts to grow the economy of the state from $4.4 billion to $30 billion through massive investment in agriculture by attracting investors, empowering the farmers and opening the rural economy of the state.

‘’As governors firmly respond to the multiple consequences of a food crisis,for the masses, it may just be morning yet on creation day.

“Also, the Ekiti State government said it has committed the sum of N1 billion to improve food production, especially to embark on land preparation, driven by the ministry of agriculture and food security’s tractorization subsidy scheme, and an input supply programme to support small scale farmers.

“Similarly, the government said it is also committing a whopping N1.2 billion it recently got as first tranche of the World Bank-financed Livestock Productivity and Resilience Support ( L-PRES) Project to transform the livestock subsector.

Ekiti gov commits N1bn on food production

“According to the NGF report, in Ekiti State, the money would be spent on empowering livestock farmers, boosting livestock productivity as well as creating a conducive environment for youths and private sector involvement in livestock businesses.

“This, the NGF report said, will include revamping all veterinary clinics across the local government areas and the state veterinary hospital; development of poultry sector across the value chain from production to processing; Feed formulation and artificial insemination (Al) training and support, among others.

“In Zamfara State, last week, Governor Dauda Lawal hosted the Swedish Ambassador, Annika Hahn-Englund, on partnership on how to grow the state economy and address the current hardships
“The report said the meeting aimed to create collaboration and partnership in critical areas of the economy, build long-term relationships, and implement transformative projects to benefit Zamfara State and its people.

“At the meeting, Governor Lawal assured the Swedish ambassador of his administration’s readiness to promote collaboration and sustainable development across various sectors.

“Sweden has expressed interest in partnering with Zamfara State to build long-term relationships and implement transformative projects for the state’s people in Nigeria.”

“Furthermore, the Ambassador pledged to offer Zamfara technical expertise in responsible mining practices, modern agricultural techniques, renewable energy infrastructure, and support in improving education and healthcare services.

States set to meet FG

“According to the report from the NGF secretariat, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara State, who is also chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, in collaboration with the Governors Agbu Kefas of Taraba State; Lucky Aiyedatiwa of Ondo State; and Ahmed Ododo of Kogi State with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, FMAFS, to interface with the federal government and push for increased crop production to tackle food inflation and food shortages in Nigeria.

“The report said Governor Abdulrazaq explained that the Anchor Borrowers Programme that was previously implemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria did not achieve much.

“He called on the agriculture minister to work hard to meet the food targets of government, as this was vital for the Nigerian masses, adding that state governors would work with the ministry.

“According to the chairman of the governors forum, ‘we could not achieve much with the CBN Anchor Borrowers programme; it was very challenging. The issue of food security is a one-stop-shop and we need to concentrate on what we are doing. We need to concentrate on what we are doing for the dry season farming.

“The minister has come up with a programme on cassava, rice and maize and we want to’ engage in that programme and urgently make sure we improve on our yield and deliver to the Nigerian population.

“We want to get to a stage where we export our food. What we have now is that, because of the devaluation of our naira, Nigeria’s food is being exported to West Africa and is the cheapest in the region today.”

“He explained that the governors had “come to the realisation that we have a new Ministry of Agriculture, because over the last four years, before this administration, the engagement was not too productive.

“This was because the CBN took over most of what the agriculture ministry use to do. Our trips to the ministry at that time were not fruitful. But now we have seen strong engagement and sense from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and that is why we are here today.”, the chairman of the governors forum stressed.

“Governor Abdulrazaq also said the governors had also noted that food in Nigeria was the cheapest in West Africa, adding that Nigeria’s neighbours were using its food to trade.

“As a result the NGF chairman said, “They are taking our soya and other stuff to make foreign exchange for themselves. That is not a bad thing. What we need to do is to ramp up production and increase our yields per hectare so that we can feed West Africa, feed ourselves 100 per cent and export food. That is the goal we must achieve…. whatever subsidy that is coming from the federal government will be improved upon by the states.”

Govs visit, endorsement of FG, states’ collaboration

“According to the report, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator . Abubakar Kyari, described the four governors’ visit as a huge endorsement for the progressive drive towards the much-needed collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and state governments.

“It is to create an agricultural sector fit for a nation as endowed as Nigeria with massive arable fertile land, abundant water resources and agricultural labour force. This visit is, in my view, beyond a courtesy call. The bigger picture we seek to create now is to vastly increase agricultural production all year round.

“This is with the cardinal objective of driving down food inflation, creating employment, reducing poverty, engendering economic growth and development, as well as promoting inclusivity.

“Ahead of the second phase of the dry season food production programme under the National Agricultural Growth Scheme and Agro-Pocket, I sent out expression of interests to the governors of the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to which responses have been encouraging.
“Indeed, a number of your brother governors have paid visits to our corporate headquarters here. These include the governors of Jigawa, Katsina, Ekiti, Niger, Kebbi, and Sokoto states in furtherance of the collaboration we are seeking for the success of the dry season food production programme.”

“It could also be recalled that mid-February, President Bola Tinubu met with all 36 state governors under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum at the Council Chamber of the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

“The meeting trails the recent hike in food prices and hardship, key themes of the meeting.

“The report from the NGF secretariat, the meeting was attended by Vice President Kashim Shettima, Director-General of the Department of State Services, Yusuf Bichi; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume; the Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun; the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu and the President’s Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Governors who attended were those of Kwara, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq; Imo, Hope Uzodinma; Borno, Prof. Babagana Zulum, Edo, Godwin Obaseki; Rivers, Sim Fubara; Ekiti, Biodun Oyebanji, Nasarawa, Abdullahi Sule and Anambra Prof. Charles Soludo.

“Also present were the governors of Plateau, Caleb Mutfwang; Kaduna, Uba Sani; Adamawa, Ahmadu Fintiri; Jigawa, Umar Namadi; Kogi, Ahmed Ododo; Yobe, Mai Mala Buni; Niger, Mohammed Bago; Abia, Alex Otti; Enugu, Peter Mbah; Benue, Hyacinth Alia and Babajide Sandi-Olu of Lagos.

“The governors of Delta, Bauchi, Oyo, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kano were represented by their deputies. Ministers of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike; Agriculture, Abubakar Kyari; and Information, Mohammed Idris, also attended.

“The report said that twenty-four hours after President Tinubu met with state governors, where Governor Ademola Adeleke of Osun State unveiled his government’s food security plan as he advocated national unity to resolve the current national economic crisis.

“Governor Adeleke visited the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security during which he opened up on the extensive agenda of the state government on food security and expanded food production.

“These are emergency eras in the economic life of this nation. We, therefore, have a duty to look and act beyond partisan politics and ensure collective efforts towards restoration of normalcy. A federation works best when component units join hands for common good.

“It is in that line that I am here today. The first reason is to brief you on what the Osun State government is doing on the issue of food security and ongoing economic challenges facing the nation.

Tinubu briefs state govs on steps towards addressing the food crisis

“Mr. President briefed the state governors on the state of the nation. He outlined several steps state governors should take to stem the crisis of food security and inflation.

“I am happy to report that Osun government has been very proactive. First, we are setting up a State Security Trust Fund to mobilise financing for security agencies. This is going to be private sector-driven.

“Secondly, I have convened a food security meeting to brainstorm on how to further secure our farmlands. I will be meeting representatives of the hunters association and the Amotekun commanders, alongside the civil defence and police services. The goal is to strengthen farm security.

“Our administration is also working on small farmers’ equipment lending service. This is to ease the access of small-scale farmers to tractors and other needed machinery. We are meeting this week to finalise the plan ahead of the onset of the rainy planting season.

“To expand food production, we are also pushing to implement a City-to-Farm programme. This was designed to encourage young small-scale farmers. This will expand production and also engage our youth.

“This is alongside our plans for regional farmers’ markets where off-takers can meet farmers for exchange and market relationships. We need your technical support to implement many of the listed areas.

“On a more general level, our administration recently unveiled a Cocoa Revival plan for the state. It involves several activities which focus on moving Osun from 3rd to 1st cocoa producer in Nigeria. We seek a partnership with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture on this.

“Our government is also interested in the livestock development programme. We have submitted our expression of interest. Kindly help to facilitate early approval.

“The state is also interested in the Agro-processing zones project being implemented under the African Development Bank. I hosted a delegation of the AFDB in Osun two weeks ago. Your ministry’s support on this is also solicited.

“Meanwhile, the NGF secretariat said in Lagos State, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu expressed his government’s willingness to expand its relationship with the Netherlands in different sectors, especially the agricultural sector, to ensure food security in the state.

“The governor expressed this position while recently receiving the Netherlands Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Geoffrey Leeuwen, and his contemporary in Migration, Eric Burg, at his official residence in Ikoyi.

‘’Deputy Governor, Kadri Hamzat, on behalf of the governor, stated that the bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the Netherlands had existed for over 400 years.

“Sanwo-Olu said his administration was ready to strengthen the existing relationship with the Netherlands in different sectors, especially agriculture.

“We are willing to implement some of the lessons we have learnt from the Netherlands, particularly to enhance food production, storage, amongst others.

“As part of its drive for food security, Lagos State government last month said it was activating plan for the state red meat Initiative with the establishment of a feedlot system, a butchers’ academy and a meat shop in the state.

“On his part, Leeuwen said the Netherlands government was committed to working on transitions that were crucial to the economy and business opportunities in both Netherlands and Nigeria, with specific interest in Lagos.’’

FG excited over Govs’ endorsement of food security programmes

Meanwhile, the federal government expressed excitement and hope over the endorsement by state governors of the food security programmes rolled out through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.

The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari, who stated this while playing host to some of the governors in his office in Abuja, said the development was a strong political will and synergy in the agricultural sector.

Kyari said: “This visit is without a doubt a huge endorsement for the progressive drive towards the much-needed collaboration between the federal ministry of agriculture and food security and state governments, to create an agriculture sector fit for a nation as endowed as Nigeria with massive arable fertile land, abundant water resources and agricultural labour force. This visit is, in my view, beyond a courtesy call.

“Your Excellencies, we are aware that in your respective states, agriculture has witnessed noticeable development over the years.

“The bigger picture we seek to create now is to vastly increase agricultural production all year round, with the cardinal objective of driving down food inflation, creating employment, reducing poverty, engendering economic growth and development, as well promoting inclusivity.

‘’We are confident that we can partner in the realization of these objectives. There is no question that if we get things right now, and without an iota of doubt, with all hands on the plough, future programmes and projects will enable us to seamlessly achieve all-year-round agricultural production with beneficial consequences for economic empowerment, inclusivity and ultimately wider opportunities for value addition, food and nutrition security as well as industrialization.

“We have seen the examples of some states in the course of the wheat production programme, and even now in preparation for the second phase.’’

From left: Delta State Governor, Sheriff Oborevwori; Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, during a civic reception in honour of the minister at the Ekeremor community pavilion in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, weekend.