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Russia-Ukraine War: Buhari directs Agric Ministry to release over 40,000 metric tonnes of grains

President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Minister of Agriculture, Abubakar Mohammed, to release over 40,000 metric tonnes of assorted grains from the strategic grain reserves to Nigerians.

The decision, according to the Minister, may not be unconnected with the war between Ukraine and Russia, which has indirectly impacted the importation of essential grains from those countries.

Other remote factors that may have also accounted for the presidential directive is economic hardships being faced by Nigerians especially as Muslims observe their Ramadan fast this season.

Confirming the directive, Mohammed said, “I’m here this afternoon as a result of summoning by His Excellency, Mr. President, President Muhammadu Buhari. He actually directed and approved the release of grains from our Strategic grain Reserve by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

This is to cushion the effect of some of the issues we are facing with high prices of commodities across the country and also to cushion these festivities; Ramadan, Easter, Salah so that there will be a little cushion for the people during these festivities.

Not just us, the Federal Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, but also that we’ll be giving some of these grains to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs to also do the same distribution, the grain is coming from our Strategic Grains Reserve, as directed by Mr. President”.

Disclosing the quantity to be released, he said in the first instance, 12,000 metric tons and then we’ll be releasing and certainly we will start with about 10,000 metric tons that we’ll hand over to the Humanitarian Ministry to do that, and then the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will continue.

So, I think in all there should be over 40,000 metric tons that will be released as we start the release of the grains,” he noted.

On the kind of grains, he said sorghum, maize, millet and an assortment of grains that are in the grain reserves.

He clarified that the grain reserves are located across the entire country in all the six geopolitical zones.

The Minister debunked insinuations that insecurity has adversely affected food production in the country.

He insisted that a number of measures to boost crop production has been adopted by the government which trickles down to the grasssroots.

Certainly, some measure of insecurity might affect a bit of agriculture, however, as you can see, there’s really no sharp drop in productivity in agricultural production. There’s still food, and people are still cultivating in all parts of the country.

Some of the areas where it has some security implication, yes, it may have a little drop, but the government is doing everything humanly possible to make sure that production continues in other parts and even areas where there are issues, the government is doing whatever it takes.

Like in the Ministry of Agriculture, we have Agro Rangers who sometimes provide some kind of security cover that will make sure food production does not stop. I can assure you that we don’t have problems with food production at this point.

You talked about the government not giving adequate attention to agriculture in the south. No, that’s not true. That’s far away from the truth. In the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, we have programmes, all kinds of programmes all across the country; north, south and central. So, this is not true.

I would like to know how to finish supplies in additional regions to the country because the personnel that read the papers are racist. Well

I want you to tell me how the Russian invasion of Ukraine has affected the importation of wheat

Yes indeed, the Russian/Ukraine conflict is an issue of concern. As a result of that Mr. President has directed that we sit and discuss and not just the Ministry of Agriculture, but NALDA, NCFI, all of those that are concerned, the Central Bank. We have met about two to three times to discuss the issue of Ukraine. Yes, indeed, Nigeria imports grains and other agricultural input from Ukraine, we are making sure that we look inwards and outwards to make sure this conflict does not affect our agricultural sector.

Inwards, looking at fabrication of certain equipment that we can do. Also surveying and looking for areas that we can even produce our own fertilizer because we have the mineral deposits that are precursors to fertilizer production and also other places where we can import, apart from Ukraine, but the most important thing is to up our own agricultural production and this is without saying that no administration in recent times that has given the agriculture sector such an attention and funding as the current administration of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari,” he said.

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