By Ismaila Chafe
Abuja, Sept. 22, 2020 The National Food Security Council says it will ensure the reduction on the cost of NPK fertiliser from N5,500 to N5,000 per bag as earlier ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari in April to boost food production in the country.
Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, who is also the Vice-Chairman of the National Food Security Council, disclosed this when he, alongside Gov. Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa, briefed State House correspondents at the end of the meeting of the National Food Security Council at the State House, Abuja, on Tuesday.
Bagudu explained that the implementation of the president’s directive was informed by the fact that production of the commodity had been normalized in the country following the reopening of Indorama plant in Rivers.
He said the plant was closed because of COVID-19 related deaths.
The governor also expressed optimism that prices of food items and goods would soon be coming down judging by the data obtained and made available to him.
He explained: “Yes, I said food prices for crops have started coming down. That was from data collated and made available to me in my state and from a pre-meeting with all the commodity association and farmer groups prior to the National Food Security Council meeting.
“I have been going round my state in the last one week and have seen further drops in prices and it makes sense and is self-explanatory. Harvest is coming in, harvests of millets, maize and of rice.
“Yes, we had a lot of devastating floods that affected the rice crop but again, there is upland rice that is being harvested that has not been affected by flood.’’
The governor attributed the increase in the prices of foodstuff to bulk purchase of food commodities for distribution as COVID-19 palliatives by the three tiers of government and wealthy individuals.
“The CACOVID was buying food items for the coronavirus pandemic response in bulk at a peak of the beginning of the season, at a time when demands are not high. So, it contributed to the high cost.
“The global lockdown also contributed because of lack of movement of food items. But now, harvests are coming in and it is good.
“Yes, there are some states that experienced huge draught but that has been overcome by the food coming from elsewhere.”
Bagudu assured that despite the flood disasters in parts of the country this year, which he said was worst that previous ones, “there won’t be food crisis’’.
He added: “Is there going to be goods crisis? No, by God’s grace. Yes, flooding is devastating. Unfortunately, that is part of life. We have a good eco-system where immediately after flooding we can plant again.
“In fact, the farmers are more confident because the risk of flooding has reduced.
“So, what is important is for us to mobilise and ensure we time properly and is part of the reason Mr President has been working very hard because that is what bothers him most, how to deliver to Nigerians.
“That is why since last week and a week earlier, the challenge has been ‘come up with how we can intervene so that farmers, fishermen and those in husbandry can resume economic activities as quickly as possible.’
“In fact, one of the key initiatives as the very first intervention of the national food security council, was to recognize how to support people to resume economic activity following the disaster.
“That is why in 2018, N23 billion was spent to support farmers in 14 states as well as another N8 billion to support some states that were affected by conflict and the need for people to resume economic activity.’’
Also, Gov. Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa, expressed confidence that the prices of food items would come down as harvest season has begun and more commodities are arriving markets across the country.