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Hunger: Nigerian Govt plans to massively crash Down food prices in 6 months times

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Hunger: Nigerian Govt plans to massively crash Down food prices in 6 months times

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Federal Government says its strategic measures aimed at tackling high food prices nationwide will drastically reduce the cost of the commodities in the next 180 days.

FG said the measures which include the suspension of duties, tariffs, and taxes for the importation of certain food commodities through land and sea borders, as well as the importation of 500,000 metric tonnes of wheat and maize, would effectively address the rise in food prices.

Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari, who disclosed this on his official X handle on Wednesday, stated that imported food commodities would be subjected to a recommended retail price to maintain the required and acceptable standard.

The Minister disclosed this just as the All Farmers Association of Nigeria expressed optimism that the price of staple food in Nigeria would crash if the government implements the policies adequately, stressing that domestic food production had been insufficient.

In the same vein, the organised private sector has commended the Federal Government for the initiative, describing it as robust, comprehensive, and all-inclusive.

The Minister in his posts on X said, “Our administration has unveiled a series of strategic measures to address the high food prices currently affecting our nation. These measures will be implemented over the next 180 days: 150-day duty-free import window for food commodities; suspension of duties, tariffs, and taxes for the importation of certain food commodities through land and sea borders. These commodities include maize, husked brown rice, wheat, and cowpeas.

“Imported food commodities will be subjected to a recommended retail price. We understand concerns about the quality of these imports, especially regarding their genetic composition. The government assures that all standards will be maintained to ensure the safety and quality of food items for consumption.

Wheat importation

“The Federal Government will import 250,000 metric tonnes of wheat and 250,000 metric tonnes of maize. These semi-processed commodities will be supplied to small-scale processors and millers across the country; engagement with relevant stakeholders to set a GMP ( good manufacturing practices) and purchase surplus food commodities to restock the National Strategic Food Reserve.”

He stated that government would ramp up production for the 2024/2025 farming cycle, adding that there would be continued support to smallholder farmers during the ongoing wet season farming through existing government initiatives.

Kyari also outlined other measures to include “strengthening and accelerating dry season farming nationwide, embarking on aggressive agricultural mechanisation to reduce drudgery, lower production costs, and boost productivity, collaborating with sub-national entities to identify irrigable lands and increase land under cultivation.

He said the ministry would be “working closely with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation to rehabilitate and maintain irrigation facilities under river basin authorities across the federation. Developing strategic engagement for youths and women for immediate greenhouse cultivation of horticultural crops such as tomatoes and pepper to increase production volume, stabilise prices, and address food shortages.

“Fast-tracking ongoing engagements with the Nigerian military to rapidly cultivate arable lands under the Defence Farms Scheme and encouraging other para-military establishments to utilise available arable lands for cultivation.”

The Minister while also commenting on the Renewed Hope National Livestock Transformation Implementation Committee, stated that the committee, inaugurated on Tuesday, would develop and implement policies prioritising livestock development in alignment with the National Livestock Transformation Plan, adding that a ministry of Livestock Development has been created.

He said the government would enhance nutrition security by promoting the production of fortified food commodities, supporting the scale-up of the Home Garden Initiative by the Office of the First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Kyari further stated, “Over the next 14 days, in close collaboration with the Presidential Food Systems Coordinating Unit, and the Economic Management Team, we will convene with respective agencies to finalise the implementation frameworks. We will ensure that information is publicly available to facilitate the participation of all relevant stakeholders across the country.

“The success of these measures hinges on the cooperation and collaboration of all relevant MDAs (ministries, departments and agencies) and stakeholders. As our nation confronts this critical food security challenge, I reiterate President Bola Tinubu’s unwavering commitment to achieving food security and ensuring that no Nigerian goes to bed hungry. My team and I will work swiftly and diligently to actualise these crucial policies, ensuring food security for everyone in the immediate term while continuing our strategies for long-term interventions to address underlying causes and ensure sustainable and resilient food systems in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the All Farmers Association of Nigeria has lauded the initiative of the Federal Government on the lifting of taxes on food importation, as well as the importation of 500,000MT of wheat and maize.

South-West Chairman of AFAN, Femi Oke, noted that food prices in Nigeria had continued to rise due to low production, stressing that it was the right thing to do by importing these items.

He stated, “It is a welcome development because the prices of food items have continued to rise and are now very high for most Nigerians. So we believe that with the introduction of a duty-free importation policy on the food items, the cost of these commodities will drop.”

Asked if the policy would not adversely impact local food production, the AFAN official replied, “No it can’t, because what we are producing in the country is not even enough. Our population is increasing every day and removing the taxes would lead to the importation of more food into the country.

“As the food importation increases, the price of food items in the country will reduce. So the initiative is encouraging this time because the prices of food items are so high and this is affecting all sectors of the economy.”

On Monday, Kyari had explained that the Presidential Accelerated Stabilisation and Advancement Plan was an initiative of President Tinubu to bring about food security and economic stability to Nigeria.

The Minister said over the past several months, “we have all been witnesses to the escalating cost of food items in all parts of the country. There is virtually no food item that has not had its price raised to a level higher than what a good many Nigerians can afford.”

He stated that the affordability crisis in our food security system had been indexed by the data from the National Bureau of Statistics which by the last count, had put food inflation at 40.66 per cent.

Kyari added, “We have heard the cries of Nigeria over the prices of food items and condiments, with some now describing tomatoes as gold and proposing a variety of recipes to prepare soups and dishes with some of the overly priced food items.

“What in the past were regarded as common items such as yam, plantain, and potato now command excessively high figures and Nigerians are right to wonder how and why things are the way they are.

“As a government under the leadership of President Tinubu, members of the Federal Executive Council and indeed all other operatives in the MDAs are fully aware of the hardship occasioned by the high cost of food items in our country. There is no doubt that food inflation is a direct consequence of a number of factors.”

The Minister said agricultural production activities had been hampered in some parts of the country by a number of factors resulting in the inability of smallholder farmers to contribute optimally to the country’s food basket.

He added that this had opened a new dimension to the food challenge from affordability to availability of sufficient food commodities.

He further stated, “As you may recall, earlier in the year, there were a number of interventions by the Federal Government to make food available and to dampen their prices. Those interventions include the release of 42,000MT of assorted food commodities from the National Strategic Food Reserve, 58,500MT purchase of milled rice from the Rice Processors Association of Nigeria and an additional 30,000MT of rice.

“Regrettably, prices have continued to escalate, and in some cases these days, food items are becoming unavailable. The Government cannot allow this situation to persist. While there are ongoing agricultural initiatives, programmes and projects under the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, and state governments also have theirs, we must respond to the creeping availability crisis.

“As the government continues to encourage agricultural production on a sustainable and profitable basis for farmers, the time lag between cultivation and harvest makes it inevitable for the government to kick in stop-gap measures that will bring tremendous relief to Nigerians.

“For instance, harvest for 2024 wet season farming will not be due until October-November. On the one hand, while the measures aim to alleviate immediate food shortages, we will strengthen domestic production capabilities to enhance long-term food security.”

Kyari noted that the causative factors in the country’s food inflation figures include infrastructural challenges, multiple taxes and levies, and the sheer profiteering by marketers and traders.

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