New Telegraph

How Nigeria survived prolonged global lockdown –FG

The Federal Government yesterday said that the policy of the current administration which encouraged Nigerians to grow what they eat and eat what they grow turned out to be its saving grace during the prolonged global lockdown occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic. Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who made the assertion at the Ninth Edition of the ‘PMB Administration Scorecard Series (2015-2023)’, said that while the shelves of many supermarkets in the Western World were empty especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia-Ukraine war and the economicuncertaintywhich have all combined to disrupt globalsupplychains, Nigeria has remained self-sufficient infood and other basicneeds.

Mohammed recalled that long before these crises, President Muhammadu Buh

ari had admonished Nigerians to grow what they eat and eat what they grow.

“Then, many neither understood the importance of that admonition nor appreciated its relevance. Well, it turned out that the consequence of that statement, which made Nigerians to look inward and relied less on imports, saved Nigerians from hunger, especially during the prolonged global lockdown, when exporting nations shut their ports and borders and nations that relied on imports were struggling to meet their needs. Imagine that Nigeria, during that period, had relied on importstofeeditself,” hesaid. The minister said that when the pandemic started, thefoodsecurityprogramme of the administration was in its fifth year, but Nigerians had enough food to eat and enough fertilizers to farm, due to the Presidential Fertilizer initiative. He also recalled that even before the pandemic, the Federal Government had closed the borders and food imports were largely banned.

“Our farmers are now part of our economy. Companies and factories are coming up to manufacture, process and distribute food. If you visit our markets and supermarkets today, what you will see mostly are ‘made in Nigeria’ products. This is a huge progress in such a short time,” he said. Mohammed said that the major contributors to the huge progress made on food sufficiency, include the increase in the number of fertilizer blending plants in the country from 10 in 2015 to 142 today, and the increase in the number of rice mills in the country from 10 in 2015 to 80 integrated rice mills today. It would be recalled that Nigeria was the number one export destination for rice in 2014, according to Thai authorities. However, by 2021, the same Thai authorities rankedNigeria as number79.

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