By Abdullahi Mohammed, Abuja
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Mr Mahmood Abubakar said Thursday that the rising cost of food and other commodities is not peculiar to Nigeria.The minister, who disclosed this while addressing State House correspondents at the weekly ministerial briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team, said COVID-19 and the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine make prices of food to skyrocket.
He said the federal government was working hard to address the issue of the continuous rise in the prices of food stuff in the country.“When COVID came, it affected a lot of things including food production and the after effect of that is what we are still facing and that will lag for some time before it is stabilized. I believe the price of rice has dropped a little bit and we are still working on it.
The whole world is currently reeling out of COVID and now battling the consequences of the war in Ukraine and Russia but things will stabilize and the Ministry of Agriculture is doing everything to possible in terms of addressing the problem; we are not relenting, so that the prices will come down faster.”The Agriculture Minister noted with dismay, attacks by herdsmen and terrorists that have denied some farmers the opportunity to go to their farms, especially in the North-West and Central regions of the country.
“It is a concern for the government but however if you notice, despite that, still, production has not dropped to any significant level. That is one of the reasons why we have an arrangement for security agents known as Agro-Rangers, who are providing some measures of security so that the farmers will be able to access their farms.“Truly, if they cannot completely access farms all over the country, you will expect a drop in production but right now we are doing everything possible to make sure both production is maintained through that security provision,” he said.The minister said Nigeria remains focused on its plan to end hunger by 2025.“Of course we are on track. Who will not want to end hunger?” he said.
The minister said the agriculture sector has contributed a lot to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the last seven years because of President Muhammadu Buhari’s insistence on agriculture as a means of diversifying the economy in the wake of the fall in global price of oil.Also speaking, the Director of Fisheries and Aquaculture in the ministry, Dr Samson Umoh, said importation of fishes is based on the unavailability of some species and the total demand for the country.“Presently the total fish demand for the country is about 3.6 million metric tons, based on the population of Nigeria while the total production is about 1.2 million metric tons.“And the gap must be filled up therefore, we are engaging the youths, women and all sectors to improve fish production.“Apart from the intervention being done by the government, there are some species that are not farmed or found in Nigerian waters; like the mackerel and the stockfish among others therefore, we have to import because they are not available in Nigeria,” he said.