• Friday, July 12, 2024
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Nigeria opts for massive food importation to ease cost of living crisis

FG declares N3.09b harvest from Renewed Hope agric agenda

Abubakar Kyari , the minister of Agriculture and Food Security has said the federal government’s approval of a total sum of N2 trillion to tackle food inflation and actualize the accelerated stabilization and advancement plan.

The minister also said that the federal government had also approved a 150-day duty free import window for food commodities for the importation of certain commodities — through land and sea borders — under the program.

The minister gave the information while briefing newsmen in Abuja Monday. He also outlined the implementation of the Presidential Accelerated Stabilisation and Advancement Plan, an initiative of President Bola Tinubu, to bring about food security and economic stability.

Read also: Abubakar Kyari to drive Tinubu’s food security plan

“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,” Kyari said.

Duty free import window

According to the minister, the 150-day duty free import window for food commodities include suspension of duties, tariffs and taxes for the importation of  maize, husked brown rice, wheat and cowpeas. Under this arrangement, imported food commodities will be subjected to a Recommended Retail Price (RRP).

 

“I am glad to reiterate that the government’s position exemplifies standards that would not compromise the safety of the various food items for consumption,” he said.

 

“In addition to the importation by private sector, Federal Government will import 250,000MT of Wheat and 250,000MT of Maize. The imported food commodities in their semi processed state will target supplies to the small-scale processors and millers across the country._

The Minister informed that the federal government will engage relevant stakeholders to set a Guaranteed Minimum Price (GMP) and mop up surplus assorted food commodities to restock the National Strategic Food Reserve as well continue to ramp-up production for the 2024/2025 farming cycle, even as they will sustained support to smallholder farmers in the ongoing wet season farming.

Other efforts by the federal government he added will include development of a strategic engagement for youth and women across the federation for immediate greenhouse, cultivation of horticultural crops such as tomatoes and pepper to increase production volume, stabilize prices, and address food shortages and fast-tracking ongoing engagements with the Nigerian Military to rapidly cultivate arable lands under the Defence Farms Scheme, while encouraging other Para-Military establishments to put secured available arable lands to cultivation

Kyari also informed that the “ Renewed Hope National Livestock Transformation Implementation Committee will be inaugurated on Tuesday, 9th July 2024 with a view to develop and implement policies that prioritize livestock development and ensure alignment with the National Livestock Transformation Plan as well as the Enhancement of Nutrition Security through the promotion of production of fortified food commodities and necessary support to scale up the Home Garden Initiative by the Office of The First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Over the next 14 days, in close collaboration with the Presidential Food Systems Coordinating Unit (PFSCU) and the Economic Management Team (EMT), we will convene with the respective Agencies to finalize the implementation frameworks. We will ensure that information is publicly available to facilitate the participation of all relevant stakeholders across the country. The PFSCU will manage a dashboard for Mr. President, providing him with direct visibility into these interventions and ensuring accountability.” He said

Earlier the minister while reiterating Mr Presidents commitment to attaining food security said “As our nation confronts a critical food security challenge, let me reiterate Mr. President’s unwavering commitment to attaining food security and ensuring that no Nigerian goes to bed hungry.

“To this end, I can assure all Nigerians, that my team and I, will swiftly and diligently actualize these crucial policies to ensure food security for everyone in the country in the immediate term as we also continue our strategies for long term interventions to address the underlying causes and ensure sustainable and resilient food systems in the country”.

He further recalled 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%.

“We have heard the cries of Nigeria over the prices of food items and condiments, with some now describing tomato 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, potato now command excessively high figures and Nigerians are right to wonder how and why things are the way they are.” He said

“As a government under the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR, 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. Agricultural production activities have 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. This has opened a new dimension to the food challenge from affordability to availability of sufficient food commodities.

He further listed a number of interventions by the Federal Government to make food available and to dampen their prices to include: the release of 42,000MT of assorted food commodities from the National Strategic Food Reserve, 58,500MT purchase of milled rice from Rice Processors Association of Nigeria and 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.” He added