The Federal Government is set to commence the free distribution of 42,000 metric tonnes of grains across the country beginning with Niger State from next week.

Niger State Governor, Mohammed Bago, who announced this on Thursday at the Abuja headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security after a meeting with the agric minister, said Niger would be used as a pilot state before other states would join.

“We are here to discuss with the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security with respect of the visit of Mr. President to Niger State as regards the commissioning of the mechanisation process that they have been able to provide for agriculture.

“We also discussed about the palliatives from the Federal Government in terms of food distribution from all the grain reserves that we have across the country using Niger State as a pilot in the North-Central so that it can commence in earnest.

“The distribution will commence by next week, what we are saying is that Niger State has provided itself as a pilot state in terms of giving the dividends of democracy with respect to agriculture and as such our sister states are coming on board,” Bago stated.

On February 8, 2024, President Bola Tinubu directed the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to release about 42,000MT of maize, millet and other commodities from the national strategic reserves in order to address the rising cost of food.

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, had disclosed this in Abuja after a meeting of the Presidential Committee on Emergency Food Intervention.

Idris had also stated that the Rice Millers Association of Nigeria had committed to releasing about 60,000MT of rice to the markets.

“The first one is that the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security has been directed to release about 42,000MT of maize, millet, garri, and other commodities in their strategic reserve so that these items will be made available to Nigerians; 42,000MT immediately.

“The second one is that we have held meetings with the Rice Millers Association of Nigeria. Those who are responsible for producing this rice and we have asked them to open up their stores.

“They’ve told us that they can guarantee about 60,000 metric tons of rice. They will make that available to Nigerians; to bring out to the market to make food available,” the information minister had told journalists.

Also on February 14, 2024, the Federal Government announced that it would distribute the 42,000 metric tonnes of grains approved by the President to poor Nigerians at no cost.

It also announced that the Department of State Services and the National Emergency Management Agency had been engaged in the distribution process to ensure that the commodities get to the targeted citizens nationwide.

The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari, who disclosed this at a ministerial press briefing in Abuja at the time, had further revealed that the government would be supporting 500,000 farmers to cultivate and produce one million metric tonnes of rice.

Meanwhile, Bago told journalists on Thursday that the Niger State Government had acquired 120 trucks of food to complement what the Federal Government was doing so that it could reach more people.

On his part, the agric minister stated that the distribution of the grains would be based on the template of the National Emergency Management Agency and the Office of the National Security Adviser.