FMAFS’s Stewardship In Driving Food Security In Nigeria

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FMAFS Media Briefing 2
A cross section of dignitaries and journalists during the ministerial media briefing in Abuja.

Nigeria is currently experiencing an all-time high in food inflation, pegged at 40.53 per cent as of April 2024, according to a report published by Trading Economics. This contrasts starkly with a record low of -17.50 per cent in January 2000.

Experts in the food production sector have identified multiple factors driving the current food inflation in Nigeria. Contrary to popular belief, the inflation is not due to a shortage of food but rather a complex interplay of various factors that elevate food prices in the market.

Nigeria’s Food Inflation Index

In an exclusive interview with Science Nigeria, the national president of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Arc. Kabiru Ibrahim highlighted the central role of food inflation, noting that it garners significant attention because everyone needs to eat.

According to Ibrahim, food inflation is currently over 40 per cent, compared to about 30 per cent in other sectors, primarily because food is a necessity. He emphasised that this inflation is driven by multiple factors rather than a single cause.

Factors at Play

Ibrahim identified several key factors contributing to the current food inflation:

1. Purchasing Power of the Naira. The devaluation of the naira significantly affects how people buy and sell. Economist Prof. Unachukwu Eke pointed out that the purchasing power of the naira has drastically decreased. For example, buying food at the same price as when the dollar was N600/N800 is impossible now that it is around N1,500.

2. Transportation. Ibrahim noted that the increase in the price of premium motor spirit (PMS), commonly known as fuel, contributes to the rise in food prices. Transporting food from rural to urban areas becomes more expensive, and traders pass this cost on to consumers.

3. Insecurity. Insecurity, which has plagued Nigeria for over a decade, also plays a role in driving up food prices. Eke explained that some farmers have been prevented from farming due to insecurity, while others incur additional costs by hiring vigilantes or security outfits to guard their farms. These costs are transferred to the food products, making them more expensive.

4. Middlemen. The presence of middlemen further affects food prices. They purchase foodstuffs from farmers, add their own profit margins, and sell to traders, who in turn add their own gains before selling to end-buyers.

5. Importation. Ibrahim noted that some farm inputs are imported, and the costs of these inputs are factored into the overall production costs, leading to higher prices.

These factors collectively impact the affordability of food in Nigerian markets.

The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Sen. Abubakar Kyari.
The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Sen. Abubakar Kyari.

FG’s Interventions

Ibrahim asserted that the Federal Government has created opportunities to support farmers and boost production. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (FMAFS) has implemented interventions such as the National Agricultural Growth Scheme and Agro-Pocket Project (NAGS&AP), financed through a loan facility from the African Development Bank (AfDB). These initiatives aim to increase the production of key staples such as rice, maize, cassava and wheat. Additionally, the government facilitated the donation of 33,000 metric tonnes of phosphate from Russia and 2.15 million bags of fertiliser from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for free distribution to farmers.

Upon assuming office, President Tinubu declared a state of emergency in the agricultural sector, mandating the FMAFS under the Renewed Hope Agenda to drive food security interventions in Nigeria. Since the president’s directive, FMAFS, under the leadership of minister, Senator Abubakar Kyari and Minister of State, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi, has been at the forefront of efforts to boost food production and security.

During the ministerial media briefing on the sectoral update of President Bola Tinubu’s administration’s first year, Kyari reported that the agricultural sector injected an estimated N309 billion into the Nigerian economy in the past year through the harvest of agricultural produce.

Major Achievements

Kyari enumerated some major achievements of the administration over the past year:

– Launched dry season farming, cultivating 118,657 hectares of wheat in 15 states to ensure year-round farming and food security.

– Supported 107,429 wheat farmers with inputs such as fertilisers, seeds, and pesticides, resulting in an output of 474,628 metric tonnes.

– Released 42,000 metric tonnes of assorted food commodities to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for distribution to vulnerable Nigerians.

– Procured and distributed 58,500 metric tonnes of milled rice to all states and the Federal Capital Territory to reduce escalating food prices.

– Embarked on the fortification of crops with Vitamin A to improve nutrition and health.

– Distributed various agricultural inputs, including improved seeds, seedlings, value kits, agrochemicals and fertilisers, to enhance production.

Kyari also mentioned that the ministry received 2.15 million bags of fertiliser from the Central Bank of Nigeria for free distribution to farmers and improved farmland security by providing additional resources to Agro Rangers and other security agencies.

FMAFS Media briefing
L-R: The Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (FMAFS), Sen. Aliyu Abdullahi; FMAFS Minister, Sen. Abubakar Kyari and Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris during the ministerial media briefing in Abuja.

Livestock Production, Animal Health

In livestock production and animal health, the ministry procured and distributed 14,056,467 doses of vaccines for anthrax spore, foot-and-mouth disease, and other risk-based vaccination exercises in 22 high-risk states. The ministry also handed over 760 tonnes of poultry feed and 70 tonnes of ruminant feed to 15 state governments for distribution to smallholder farmers and implemented the National Livestock Development Plan to promote grazing reserves and ranching nationwide.

Mechanisation Efforts

To strengthen mechanisation, the government signed a memorandum of understanding with John Deere and Tata Africa to assemble and supply 10,000 tractors with implements and accessories at 2,000 units yearly, along with 100 combine harvesters. Additionally, a partnership with the Brazilian government, worth 995,000 Euros, aims to provide mechanisation hubs across the federation. The ministry is also facilitating the supply of 2,000 Belarus tractors and the Greener Hope Mechanisation Services.

Rural Infrastructure Development

Kyari further reported that the ministry facilitated the provision of rural infrastructure, including constructing 77.8 km of asphalt roads, 130.9 km of earthen roads, 102 motorised and solar-powered boreholes and 6,504 solar streetlights. These efforts have generated nearly 60,000 jobs in various rural economies and improved farmland security by providing additional resources to agro-rangers and other security agencies to protect farmers.

Looking Ahead

Ibrahim acknowledged that while the government is making significant efforts to support farmers, there is always room for improvement. He emphasised that farmers under the farmers’ association are ready to partner with the government in any way that will guarantee food security for the nation.

Meanwhile, the minister, addressing the media, elucidated that the ministry has captured various projects categorised under medium-term actions (2024-2027) and long-term actions (2024-2027), stressing that there is cause for optimism.

Through these comprehensive efforts and strategic interventions, Nigeria is working towards addressing the challenges of food inflation and achieving sustainable food security for its population.

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