Nigerian President Bola Tinubu has declared a state of emergency over food insecurity in the country.
All water and food resources will now fall under the National Security Council’s mandate, Tinubu said on Thursday.
The president made the decision after meeting key stakeholders of the agricultural sector at the Presidential Villa in the capital Abuja, his communications aide, Dele Alake, said in a press briefing.
Tinubu has also directed that fertiliser and seeds in government stores be released to farmers with immediate effect.
Alake added that the removal of fuel subsidy programme had affected many households and that the president was keen on averting further suffering.
The directive on fertiliser and seeds will “mitigate the effects of the subsidy removal”, said the president’s communications adviser.
“There will be an organic synergy between the Ministry of Agriculture and the use of water resources to ensure adequate irrigation of farmlands and to guarantee that food is available all years round,” Alake said.
Quoting Tinubu, Alake added that Nigeria was “no longer comfortable with seasonal farming.”
“We can no longer afford to have farming downtime,” he said.
President Tinubu has committed to create ranches in all the Nigerian states, saying the national government will “pay for the land [surrendered to the state by their owners].”
Tinubu has also pledged to bring 500,000 hectares of government land under agricultural production so as to “immediately impact food output.”
The head of state also said that funds saved due to fuel subsidy removal will be channelled to “revamping the agricultural sector.”
“We shall create and support a National Commodity Board that will review and continuously assess food prices as well as maintain a strategic food reserve that will be used as a price stabilisation mechanism for critical grains and other food items,” said Alake, quoting Tinubu.
The United Nations (UN) projects that at least 25 million Nigerians are facing food crisis.
Continued conflict, climate change, inflation and rising food prices are key drivers of the food insecurity in Nigeria, according to the UN.
Matthias Schmale, UN’s Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, termed the food insecurity across the country “deeply concerning”, saying Nigeria “must act now.”