As the Federal Government rolls out the Economic Sustainability Plan and sets goal for national food security, President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) ”not to issue a kobo” of the country’s reserves for the importation of food items and fertilizer.
At a meeting of the National Food Security Council at the State House, Abuja, the President restated his earlier verbal directive to the apex bank, saying he will pass it down in writing that ”nobody importing food should be given money.”
Emphasizing the need to boost local agriculture, the President said: “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.”
Buhari also directed that blenders of fertilizer should convey products directly to State governments so as to skip the cartel of transporters undermining the efforts to successfully deliver the products to users at reasonable costs.
The President advised private businesses bent on food importation to source their foreign exchange independently, saying ”use your money to compete with our farmers”, instead of using foreign reserves to bring in compromised food items to divest the efforts of our farmers.
”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,” President Buhari said.
The meeting, chaired by the President with other key members of the Council in attendance, was briefed on the food security situation prevailing in the country.
The Vice Chairman of the Council and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu; the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari and a Governor from each of the six geo-political zones – Jigawa, Plateau, Taraba, Ebonyi, Lagos and Kebbi, made presentations.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed, outlined measures introduced by the administration to tackle the unprecedented challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation as contained in the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP).
Among others, the Minister highlighted that the government would facilitate the cultivation of 20,000 to 100,000 hectares of new farmland in every State and support off-take of agro-processing to create millions of direct and indirect job opportunities.