Petrol Subsidy Removal: NEC Supports Government’s Grains, Fertilizer Distribution Plan

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The National Economic Council (NEC) has endorsed the Federal Government’s initiative to distribute grains and fertilizer to Nigerian citizens through the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The move aims to alleviate the impact of the removal of petrol subsidy on the population.

The decision was reached during the 4th meeting of the Council, chaired by Vice President Kashim Shettima at the State House Executive Council Chambers in Abuja. Olusola Abiola, Director of Information
Office of the Vice President disclosed in a statement.

He revealed that the endorsement followed a presentation by Anambra State Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, who leads the NEC Adhoc Committee on cushioning the effects of the petrol subsidy removal. The plan seeks to provide much-needed relief to citizens grappling with the rising costs of fuel.

Concurrently, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) declared a state of emergency on food and agriculture due to growing concerns over food insecurity and the need to enhance agricultural productivity in the country. The FMARD’s Permanent Secretary, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, presented strategies aimed at achieving food and nutrition security.

Among the proposed strategies, the FMARD plans to support smallholder farmers by equipping them with agricultural machinery and various farm inputs, including seeds, seedlings, agro-chemicals, and growth enhancers. Additionally, capacity-building programs will be initiated to enhance farmers’ knowledge and skills in implementing good agronomic practices.

Strengthening agricultural extension services is also on the agenda, with a focus on training and building the capacity of agents responsible for disseminating knowledge and expertise to farmers.

The presentation also addressed improving pasture development for pastoralists and enhancing the livestock sub-sector through breed improvement. This includes constructing farm settlements and promoting out-grower schemes, particularly for vital crops such as maize and soybean, which are crucial for livestock production.

Infrastructure development is a prominent aspect of the proposed strategies, with plans to build rural roads, boreholes, mini-water treatment plants, and other facilities to support the entire livestock value chain, benefiting the food and agriculture sectors.

Looking ahead, the presentation emphasizes the need to expedite the operationalization of Special Agro-Industrial Processing zones in each of the country’s six geo-political zones. Additionally, reviving moribund agricultural industries is a priority to boost production and productivity for food and nutrition security.

Addressing water scarcity is another critical focus area, with plans to establish more mini earth dams and run-off water harvesting structures. These measures will enable year-round farming and significantly enhance agricultural output.

Moreover, the FMARD aims to strengthen agriculture research institutes and colleges to increase research output and agricultural productivity across the country.

To ensure an adequate supply of fertilizer, the FMARD plans to bridge the fertilizer raw material gap by accelerating the local exploration of Di-Ammonium Phosphate and muriate of potash, in line with the National Food Security Council’s recommendations to the Solid Mineral Development Fund. These initiatives seek to bolster food security and agricultural development in Nigeria.

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