The federal government yesterday attributed the hike in the prices of foodstuff to bulk purchase of food commodities by the three tiers of government and wealthy individuals for distribution as COVID-19 palliatives.
The National Food Security Council which disclosed this after its meeting at the presidential villa also hinted that it will ensure the reduction on the cost of NPK fertiliser from N5,500 to N5,000 per bag as earlier ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari in April to boost food production in the country.
Kebbi State governor, Atiku Bagudu, who is also vice chairman of the National Food Security Council gave the hint while briefing State House correspondents alongside his Jigawa State counterpart, Abubakar Badaru, after the meeting of the Council.
He revealed that the federal government spent a whopping N31billion to support farmers as part of measures to avert food crisis.
Bagudu stated: “In fact, one of the key initiatives as the very first intervention of the national food security council, was to recognize how to support people to resume economic activity following the disaster.
“That is why in 2018, N23 billion was spent to support farmers in 14 states as well as another N8 billion to support some states that were affected by conflict and the need for people to resume economic activity.’’
Explaining the hike in foodstuff prices, Bagudu said, “The CACOVID was buying food items for the coronavirus pandemic response in bulk at a peak of the beginning of the season, at a time when demands are not high. So, it contributed to the high cost.
“The global lockdown also contributed because of lack of movement of food items. But now, harvests are coming in and it is good.
“Yes, there are some states that experienced huge draught but that has been overcome by the food coming from elsewhere.”
On President Buhari’s order to stop fertilizer importation, the governor explained that the implementation of the president’s directive was informed by the fact that production of the commodity had been normalized in the country following the reopening of Indorama plant in Rivers.
He said the plant was closed because of COVID-19-related deaths.
Bagudu further expressed optimism that prices of food items and goods would soon be coming down judging by the data obtained and made available to him.
He assured that the prices of food items would come down as harvest season has begun and more commodities are arriving markets across the country.