By Omololu Ogunmade
President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja said the federal government had been able to avert food crisis despite the outbreak of COVID-19.
According to him, the pandemic exposed the level of the nation’s preparedness to the shocks of food security.
He said the federal government’s commitment to the promotion of self-sufficiency over the years had helped significantly in averting a food crisis at this period.
The president, who made the claims while presiding over a National Food Security Council meeting in the State House, canvassed the need to exert more effort to increase food production and self-sufficiency.
A statement by the president’s media adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina, said Buhari pledged federal government’s continuous promotion of favourable policies that will boost investments in the agricultural sector.
“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 countries.
“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 coronavirus, the agricultural sector continued to grow because of government targeted policies,’’ he said.
The statement said the president also commended Nigerian farmers for their contribution to the stability in food security, saying many should explore the favourable rainy seasons and 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,” he said.
He also promised that efforts would be intensified to promote innovations in farming that will guarantee maximum output.
“To protect agricultural investments and boost confidence to 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 building our strategic grain reserves in recent years which we recently released significant quantities to cushion the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to vulnerable households and industries,’’ the president added.
He sympathised with farmers and families that lost their loved ones to recent flooding in the country, assuring them that the government would support victims.