Politics

President Buhari boast that COVID-19 had exposed his administration’s notable achievements in food production; bans forex on food

President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday ban forex allocation for food and fertilizer importation.

Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, had announced that Buhari ordered the Governor of the Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele, not to release money for food and fertilizer importation.

The President’s spokesman in his statement titled, “Don’t give a kobo for food, fertilizers imports, President Buhari directs CBN,” noted that Buhari at a meeting of the National Food Security Council told firms who wants to import food and fertilizer to source their foreign exchange elsewhere.

‘’From only three operating in the country, we have 33 fertilizer blending plants now working.

“We will not pay a kobo of our foreign reserves to import fertilizer. We will empower local producers” Shehu quoted Buhari.

He further noted that President Buhari advised business bent on food importation to source their foreign exchange independently.

“Use your money to compete with our farmers,’’ Buhari reportedly told the businesses.

“We have a lot of able-bodied young people willing to work and agriculture is the answer. We have a lot to do to support our farmers,’’ Buhari added.

President Buhari further boast that his administration had recorded notable achievements in food production within five years.

Buhari in another statement titled, “Despite COVID-19, we’ve been able to avert food crisis, says President Buhari,” released by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina noted that the agricultural sector had continued to grow despite the impact of COVID-19 because of his government targeted policies.

He further added that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the level of preparedness of nations to shocks of food security.

Shehu’s statement further added that; “the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed, said that the Federal Government will equally provide support to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises to help them keep their employees and boost local manufacturing.

She added that the Buhari’s government would facilitate the cultivation of 20,000 to 100,000 hectares of new farmland in every state and also support off-take of agro-processing to create millions of direct and indirect job opportunities.

“In his presentation, the Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, told the council that the nation expected a bumper harvest of food items despite floods in the north and drought in the south.

“He quoted the latest market surveys to show that the recent hike in the price of commodities is being reversed.

“On his part, Mr Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, reported the negative impact of the pandemic on the lives and livelihood of citizens, while the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col Hameed Ali (retd.) expressed the hope of an early reopening of the partially closed borders given the progress made with neighbouring States in joint border patrols – one of the key conditions by Nigeria for reopening of the borders.”

Reacting however to the development, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), warned that the President’s directive could cause further inflation as the country was not sufficient in food production.

“You will see that the last inflation report that was released showed food inflation rate has gone up which shows there is no food sufficiency because what normally happens is if demand is more than the supply, the price of the product will go up,” the acting Director-General of MAN, Mr Ambrose Oruche, told Punch.

“I don’t know where they got the statistics that we are food sufficient because food is not even generic, it has a lot of components.

“I don’t know whether we are sufficient in other products of foods like products like milk, I don’t know the statistics they are using, but we are not sufficient in food production.

“We still need wheat to produce flour, the cost of flour has gone up because we could not get forex to buy flour and the cost of sugar has gone up.

“We still need forex to import food and raw materials that will enable us to produce the finished goods that people can consume.”

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