• Sector will gulp over N1trn – Minister

From Okwe Obi, Abuja

To cushion food crisis and to boost production, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced the release of 2.15 million bags of fertilizer valued at over N100 Billion to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, for distribution.

CBN Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, stated this yesterday in Abuja when he visited the Ministers of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari and Abdullahi Sabi.

Cardoso said he remained poised towards prioritizing price stability and instilling confidence in the economy by upholding consumer’s price stability and ensuring a balanced foreign exchange market.

He said despite the persistence inflationary pressures, he anticipated what he called ‘substantial alleviation by the third quarter of 2024’ coupled with diminished exchange rates.

The apex bank chief, who did not announce when the allocation process would commence said: “We aim to enhance our partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, thereby bolstering your endeavours to enhance food productivity and security. Ultimately, curbing food inflation and fortifying our pursuit of price stability.

“In pursuit of these goals, we are delighted to announce the allocation of 2.15 million bags of fertilizer valued at over 100 billion naira which we are humbly handing over to the Ministry of Agriculture.

“This contribution from the central bank is aimed at amplifying food production capabilities and fostering price stabilization within the agricultural sector.

“My team and I reiterate our unwavering commitment to prioritizing price stability and instilling confidence in the Nigerian economy by upholding consumer price stability and ensuring a balanced foreign exchange market.

“Despite the prevailing challenges posed by inflation, and currency depreciation, we remain resolute in our determination to surmount these obstacles.

“While transient inflationary pressures may persist, we anticipate substantial alleviation by the third quarter of 2024 coupled with diminished exchange rates, trains.

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“Our resolve lies in implementing policies that cultivate a resilient macro economic environment and enhance the welfare of all Nigerians.”

Also, Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Abubakar Bagudu, who said in the 2024 budget, agriculture received over N1 trillion to shore up food production, stated that the significant increase in budgetary allocation was consistent with the renewed hope agenda of President Bola Tinubu.

According to Bagudu, Nigeria was not alone in the issue of high food prices, which according to him, is escalating due to high cost of energy.

“We are competing with other countries in the world and agriculture is the most distorted in international trade, and because of that, collaboration between institutions is necessary,” he added.

On his part, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Abubakar Kyari, decried that the agriculture sector had been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, flooding, climate change as well as the Naira redesign policy, which according to him, had adversely affected rural farmers.

He reiterated the need for the repairs of all irrigation infrastructure to support all-year farming system in the country.

“So those effects and some conflicts here and insecurity there, really impacted on the agricultural production.

“But I am happy to say that most of those things that I mentioned are on the decline. Insecurity is on the decline. Also, we are beginning to mitigate against climate change by incentivizing farming activities in agriculture.

“Fertilizer constitutes the majority cost value in terms of inputs in any agricultural production.

“So, we are very happy and we are extremely grateful for this gesture. And we have right now a programme that is ‘the national agricultural growth scheme’, that has been supported by African Development Bank to give 50% subsidy of all inputs to our farmers.

“But with Mr. President’s intervention, we have gone a bit further again, to support farmers in terms of the other percentage.”