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How we averted hunger in Nigeria, by Buhari

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• Bans releases for food, fertiliser importation
But for wisdom, the novel coronavirus which exposed the frailties of nations, would have thrown Nigeria into food crisis, the Presidency has said.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who spoke yesterday at the National Food Security Council in Abuja, noted that the singular decision of the Federal Government to promote self-sufficiency over the years averted the tragedy.

This is even as he directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) “not to issue a kobo’” of the country’s reserves for the importation of food items and fertilier.

Calling for increased food production, he assured Nigerians that government will continue to promote policies that favour investments in the agricultural sector.

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Addressing the meeting, which was also attended by his Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd) and Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Bichi among others, the President submitted: “The coronavirus pandemic has illustrated more than any event in recent history how countries must strive harder to protect food systems. It has also exposed the limits of dependency on other nations.

“In the last five years, we have recorded notable achievements. Despite the decline in GDP by 6.1 per cent in Q2 of 2020 as a direct result of the disease, the agricultural sector continued to grow because of government-targeted policies.”

He commended Nigerian farmers for contributing to the stability, adding that the favourable rainy seasons should serve as encouragement for many to take up farming as a vocation.

“I am pleased to note that most Nigerians are taking advantage of the opportunities in the agriculture and agric-business sector. I want to assure you that this government will continue to support these initiatives and many more to come,” Buhari said.

The President also hinted that efforts would be channelled to innovative ways of farming to guarantee maximum output.

“To protect agricultural investments and boost confidence of our farmers, we have deployed thousands of agro-rangers and integrated rural communities to the formal economy by extending access to credit and inputs to rural farmers and building feeder roads.

“We have invested in our strategic grain reserves in recent years that recently released significant quantities to cushion the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable households and industries,” he added.

Buhari sympathised with farmers and families that lost their loved ones to the recent floods in the country, assuring them of support.

Kebbi State Governor and Vice Chairman of the Council, Atiku Bagudu, said the extent of the destruction was still being investigated.

He explained that the effect of the natural disaster was massive, not just on agriculture, but also on families who lost several relatives in the state.

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