• Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has hailed the federal government’s plan to establish a National Commodity Board aimed at regulating the rising food prices in Nigeria.

Chinyere Almona, the chamber’s director general, on Thursday, attested that the initiative comes at a critical juncture when the rising cost of food has become a pressing concern for both the government and citizens, as well as when food inflation has reached an alarming level.

Food inflation at 35.41 percent in January far outpaced wage growth, with several analysts projecting a higher double-digit rate in coming months as food prices continue on a relentless rise.

Almona affirmed that the proposed commodity board has the potential to bring stability to food prices by continually assessing and regulating them.

She added that it could alleviate the burden on consumers and enhance overall economic predictability and the creation of a strategic food reserve for stabilising prices of crucial grains and other food items.

Almona said, “The chamber views this initiative as the government’s commitment to implementing effective short-term strategies to counteract subsidy removal and ensure immediate food supply and to deploying concessionary capital from the Central Bank of Nigeria to the agricultural sector, especially toward fertilisers, processing, mechanisation, and other key aspects, as a positive move that can enhance the overall productivity of the agricultural value chain.”

However, the LCCI observed that the price regulation may address immediate concerns, but there is a risk of market distortion if not implemented carefully.

“Over-regulation may discourage private sector participation and hinder market dynamics which is against business community growth.

“More so, this plan may largely involve complex logistics that will require robust systems and processes to ensure the board’s effectiveness without bureaucratic bottlenecks.

“Considering this development, the LCCI offers its insights and recommendations on the best strategies the federal government should adopt for the successful implementation of the National Commodity Board.

“The chamber emphasises the importance of a comprehensive approach that combines short-term interventions with medium-term strategies to ensure sustained and effective results,” said Almona.

The Chamber, to this end, recommended that distribution of fertilisers and grains to farmers and households should be prioritised to counteract the immediate effects of subsidy removal on food prices.

Almona added, “Foster collaboration between the ministries of agriculture and water resources to ensure efficient farmland irrigation, promote year-round food production, and reduce dependence on seasonal variations.

“Expedite the establishment of the National Commodity Board to assess and regulate food prices.

“This board should also be mandated to maintain a strategic food reserve to stabilize the prices of crucial grains and other food items.

“Actively engage the youth population by making agriculture an attractive and viable option.

“This can be achieved by creating 5 to 10 million jobs within the agriculture value chain, aligning with the government’s commitment to job creation.”

Almona said it is imperative that the private sector, including farmers and other stakeholders, is actively involved in the decision-making processes and implementation of the commodity board to ensure inclusivity and effectiveness.

She added that the rising cost of food is a critical issue that requires immediate attention and sustained effort, announcing the LCCI’s readiness to collaborate with the government in implementing these strategies to achieve the shared goal of ensuring food security and stabilising prices for the benefit of all Nigerians.