President Bola Tinubu has authorised the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to release around 42,000 metric tonnes of maize, millet, and other commodities from strategic reserves to address the country’s soaring food prices.
Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information and National Orientation, made the statement on Thursday at the State House in Abuja following a meeting of the Presidential Committee on Emergency Food Intervention.
According to Idris, the Rice Millers Association of Nigeria has also committed to releasing approximately 60,000 metric tonnes of rice into the market.
“The first one is that the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security has been directed to release about 42,000 metric tons of maize, millet, garri, and other commodities in their strategic reserve so that these items will be made available to Nigerians; 42,000 metric tons immediately,” he told reporters.
“The second one is that we have held meetings with the Rice Millers Association of Nigeria. Those who are responsible for producing this rice and we have asked them to open up their stores.
“They’ve told us that they can guarantee about 60,000 metric tons of rice. They will make that available to Nigerians; to bring out to the market to make food available.”
He also said there is an option of importing these grains “if it becomes absolutely necessary, as an interim measure”.
His comment comes on the same day that the Speaker of the House of Representatives Tajudeen Abbas pleaded with Nigerians over the cost of living, saying the lawmakers feel their pains.
The Speaker adds to the growing list of government officials who have repeatedly urged Nigerians to be patient over the reforms which Tinubu says will bring in more foreign investment to Africa’s largest economy.
But the short-term impact is hitting Nigerians hard: Inflation was at 28.92 percent in December, with food costs at 33.93 percent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The naira currency has fallen swiftly against the US dollar since the government ended a multi-tier exchange rate system and freed up the local currency.
Before the reforms, the naira was trading at around 450 to the dollar, but on Monday it was trading at 1,400 to the greenback, according to the central bank.