The Federal Government has set up a task force on food security.
The objective is to look at the causes of increase in the prices of food items across the country and address them.
The Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents of the outcome of a meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
Mohammed was joined at the press conference by the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun; and the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika.
He said the government was concerned about rising costs of food items in the country.
The minister said the decision to set up the task force was aimed at bringing down the prices of foodstuffs.
Mohammed said the committee, which is inter-ministerial in nature, was expected to report back to the council next week.
The minister said, “The major highlight of the meeting is that the council resolved to set up a task force on food security. Government is quite concerned about the rising cost of food items and the fact that more often than not even when these products are available, when they reach the market, they are sold at very exorbitant prices.
“So, the government has set up a task force on food security to ensure that an end is put to the wastages that occur and with tonnes and tonnes of produce sitting down in the farms going bad or in the markets getting rotten.
“It is an inter-ministerial committee made up of the Ministers of Agriculture, Finance, Water Resources and Transportation.
“The important thing is to look at what areas of intervention the government can make. The intervention can be in the area of subsidy in transportation, that is being worked out but this goes to show that government is very much concerned about the rising cost of food prices and we are responding to it.
“The committee hopefully is expected to report back to the council next week and concrete actions would be taken. Clearly government is concerned and is trying to do something to bring it down.”
Sirika said the council also approved the procurement of coaches to improve upon the Kaduna-Abuja rail project.
He said the approved coaches included two first-class coaches, two baggage coaches and six coaches for long distance economy class.
The minister said, “This is to boost rail transportation on the Abuja-Kaduna standard gauge railway and to improve on passengers and goods movement following the impending closure of the Abuja airport.
“This is to also complement the other airport we are doing in Kaduna. This is to increase our capacity to handle passengers during this airport closure.”
Sirika said the council also approved joint briefing offices in all 21 Federal Government’s airports across the country.
He listed the federal airports as the ones in Lagos, Kano, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ilorin, Sokoto, Maiduguri, Jos, Yola, Calabar, Enugu and Owerri.
Others are the ones in Kaduna, Benin, Osubi-Warri, Katsina, Zaira, Minna, Bauchi, Ibadan and Akure as well as the three aerodrome in Bonny, Excravos and Eket.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Acting President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, later issued a statement announcing the decision of the government to constitute a Presidential Task Force to urgently consider measures that would ensure a steady flow of produce to the market and reverse recent price increases.
Akande quoted Osinbajo as, at the FEC meeting, expressing concern at some of the inflationary rates of food prices, noting that the Task Force would explore options to promote availability and affordability of food items to Nigerians.
According to him, the Task Force, which has seven days to report back to FEC will consider how to remove some of the cost-raising factors that come into play between the farms and the markets and therefore “bring relief to our people.”
He further quoted Osinbajo as saying one of the focus areas of the task force would be to review the transportation and preservation processes, and see how government could intervene in those aspects to bring down food prices.
“The Task Force, which would be meeting with the Acting President in the discharge of its urgent assignment, will therefore draw out a practical plan and present same to the Council next week,” he said.
Members of the Task Force, according to Akande, include the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh; Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun; Minister of Industry, Trade and Development, Dr. Okey Enelamah; Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi; Minister of Water Resources, Mr. Suleiman Adamu; and Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige.
He said the offices of the Chief of Staff to the President and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals would also be on the task force.