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FG rolls out measures to crash high food prices, grants 150-day duty-free import for food commodities

The Federal Government on Monday rolled out measures to crash high food prices in the country, one of which is to grant a 150-day duty-free import window for food commodities.

Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari unveiled the measures at a news conference in Abuja on Monday.

He said the Economic Management Team (EMT), which is part of the Presidential Economic Coordination Council (PECC) constituted by President Bola Tinubu in March 2024 came up with the measures to crash high food prices in the country.

Kyari stated that the EMT had been meeting day and night working out the best modalities to achieve the best results for Nigerians, saying that to ameliorate food inflation in the country caused by affordability and exacerbated by availability, the government had taken a raft of measures to be implemented over the next 180 days.

One of the measures, he said, was granting a 150-day duty-free import window for food commodities, saying this included the suspension of duties, tariffs and taxes for the importation of certain food commodities (through land and sea borders).

The commodities, he said, included maize, husked brown rice, wheat and cowpeas, explaining that under this arrangement, imported food commodities would be subjected to a Recommended Retail Price (RRP).

“I am aware that some good citizens might be concerned of the quality of the would be imported food commodities as it relates to the trending worries around genetic composition of food. 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, Kyari said the Federal Government would import 250,000 metric tonnes of wheat and 250,000 metric tonnes of maize, saying the imported food commodities in their semi-processed state would target supplies to the small-scale processors and millers across the country.

Another measure, he stated was the engagement of 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 as the continuous ramp-up production for the 2024/2025 farming cycle, which included sustained support to smallholder farmers in the ongoing wet season farming through existing government initiatives and strengthen and accelerate Dry Season Farming across the country.

Others are embarking on aggressive agricultural mechanization and development to reduce drudgery, drive
down the cost of production and boost productivity, collaborating with Sub-National to identify irrigable lands and increase land under cultivation, working closely with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation, to rehabilitate and maintain irrigation facilities under river basin authorities across the federation; 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.

Another measure, the minister revealed was the planned inauguration of the Renewed Hope National Livestock Transformation Implementation Committee on Tuesday, 9th July 2024, with a view to develop and implement policies that prioritized livestock development and ensure alignment with the National Livestock Transformation Plan.

Kyari said there would be the enhancement of nutrition security through the promotion of production of fortified food commodities and offer 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 ensure accountability,” he added.

The minister said the success of the measures is contingent on the cooperation and collaboration of all relevant MDAs and stakeholders.

“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,” Kyari stated.

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