President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered marketers of fertilisers to sell their products N5,000 per 50kg bag, even amidst the scarcity and rise in prices of farm inputs recently in the open market.
This was disclosed by the Jigawa State governor, Abubakar Badaru, at the meeting of the National Council on Food Security held at the presidential villa on Tuesday.
He said the president gave the orders to ensure that farmers are able to access the commodity, a Business Day report noted.
The governor, who is the chairperson of the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) said the federal government had spent about N23 billion to support farmers in 14 states, while another N8 billion was spent to support some states that were affected by conflict, so that farmers can resume economic activity.
Mr Badaru had announced in April that the federal government has reduced the price of NPK fertiliser from N5,500 to N5,000 per 50kg bag, as part of palliatives introduced to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on farmers and other end-users.
“As part of measures introduced by Mr President to provide relief to Nigerian farmers on account of COVID-19 pandemic, the price of NPK 20.10.10 fertiliser is now N5,000 from N5,500 per 50 kg bag,” Mr Badaru said.
He promised that sufficient quantities of the fertiliser would be made available in time for the wet season farming, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, Mr Badaru has said that the bulk purchase of food commodities distributed as COVID-19 palliatives is one of the factors responsible for the observed high cost of food in the country.
He said he is confident that the situation will change since harvest season has begun and more commodities are arriving at the markets.
He noted that the Coalition Against Covid-19 (CACOVID), federal and state governments were all involved in the bulk purchase of food items to distribute as coronavirus palliatives leading to increased costs.
While explaining further, the governor said the drop in prices of food items will not be noticed immediately, because there is always a transition between the drop in the price and on the counter price drop.
“Prices started dropping at the local markets. It has to be bought, it has to be transported. If you have an existing stock, you will not lose money and drop the price. They will wait until they have exhausted the stock or there is a lot of the produce in the market, then they will be forced to drop the prices,” he was quoted to have said.
“So, the crops have started coming up, getting cheaper. It’s being transported and it takes time, depending on how fast the stocks are and how fast the traders are bringing the cheaper stock into the market, before you will see that final drop.”
Also speaking on the issue, Kebbi State governor, Atiku Bagudu, reiterated that food prices are coming down judging by the data obtained and made available to him.
“Yes, I said food prices for crops have started coming down. That was from data collated and made available to me in my state and from a pre-meeting with all the commodity cssociations farmer groups prior to the National Food Security Council meeting,” he explained.
“In the last one week, I have been going round my state in the last one week and have seen further drops in prices and it makes sense and is self explanatory. Harvest is coming in, harvests of millets, maize and of rice,” he added.
Mr Bagudu also said, “yes, we had a lot of devastating floods that affected the rice crop but again, there is upland rice that is being harvested that has not been affected by flood.”
He reiterated that the CACOVID was buying food items for the coronavirus pandemic response in bulk at the beginning of the season, when demand was not high. So, that, according to the governor, 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 a huge drought but that has been overcome by the food coming from elsewhere.” he said.
Mr Bagudu assured that despite the flood disasters in parts of the country this year, which he said is worse than previous ones, there won’t be a food crisis.
“Is there going to be a food crisis? No, by God’s grace. Yes, flooding is devastating. Unfortunately, that is part of life. We have a good ecosystem where immediately after flooding, we can plant again,” he said.
“In fact the farmers are more confident because the risk of flooding has reduced,” he added.
“What is important is for us to mobilise and ensure we time properly and is part of the reason Mr. President has been working very hard because that is what bothers him most, how to deliver to Nigerians.
“That is why since last week and a week earlier, the challenge has been to come up with how we can intervene so that farmers, fishermen and those in husbandry can resume economic activities as quickly as possible.”
Mr Bagudu further said that production of the commodity has normalised in the country following the reopening of Indorama’s plant in Rivers State, which was closed because of Covid-19 related deaths.