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July 11, 2024

We’ll regulate price of imported foodstuffs — FG

cost of living

By Gabriel Ewepu & Ibrahim Hassan

ABUJA —The Federal Government has said food items to be imported into the country in the next 150 days will be subjected to recommended retail price to bring down the high cost of food in Nigeria.

This came on a day the lawmaker representing Borno South senatorial district, Senator Ali Ndume, alleged that the food crisis in the country was further worsened by the fact that President Bola Tinubu was not accessible to be advised by lawmakers and even cabinet ministers.

Recall that the government a few days ago, suspended import duties and taxes on food items, such as rice and wheat, among others.

The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari, who disclosed this on his X (formerly Twitter) handle yesterday, said having suspended duties and taxes on food items, the Federal Government will take a step further to subject items to be imported to what he described as the recommended retail price.

He also assured that the prices of food items in the country will crash in the next 180 days, and pleaded with Nigerians to be patient with the government.

The minister said: “Our administration has unveiled a series of strategic measures aimed at addressing the high food prices currently affecting our nation. These measures will be implemented over the next 180 days, including 150-day duty-free import window for food commodities
“It also includes 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, RRP. 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.

“The Federal Government will import 250,000 metric tons of wheat and 250,000 metric tons of maize. These semi-processed commodities will be supplied to small-scale processors and millers across the country.’’

The minister stated further: “There will also be engagement with relevant stakeholders to set a GMP and purchase surplus food commodities to re-stock the National Strategic Food Reserve; Ramp-up production for the 2024/2025 farming cycle

“Continued support to smallholder farmers during the ongoing wet season farming through existing government initiatives; strengthening and accelerating dry season farming nationwide.’’

The minister also explained that over the next 14 days, the Presidential Food Systems Coordinating Unit, PFSCU, and the Economic Management Team, EMT, will, in collaboration, meet with respective agencies to finalize implementation frameworks for the new policy of making food cheaply available for Nigerians.

‘’We will ensure that information is publicly available to facilitate the participation of all relevant stakeholders across the country,’’ he added.

We can’t see President to advise him on food crisis —Ndume

Meanwhile, Senator Ali Ndume, representing Borno. South, yesterday on a BBC Hausa Service interview, said the biggest problem confronting members of the National Assembly is the alleged closed-door policy of the government, where even some members of Tinubu’s cabinet cannot see the President, let alone lawmakers who intend to see him and discuss issues pertaining to their constituencies, including the food crisis.

Senator Ndume also warned that unless steps are taken against widespread hunger in the country, malnutrition will affect many in Nigeria, stressing that it has already affected children in the North-West.

The lawmaker, who noted that a UN report had warned that 82 million Nigerians would find themselves hungry without food in the next five years, said: “We are afraid that one day, a person may go to the market with money and be confronted with a situation where there won’t be food to buy.

“If hunger persists, it’s the children that suffer most, the children lack food for healthy growth. This is a situation you find in places where there is war or famine.

“We’ve seen how it happened in Niger and South Sudan where children have died. Now the situation is rearing its ugly head in Nigeria.”

He expressed worry that the previous government had food banks for emergency needs but lamented that such food banks are no more.

“This is a matter of serious concern and something should be done quickly about it,’’ Senator Ndume said.

When asked why he couldn’t meet the President and talk to him over such matters privately instead of talking to the media, he alleged that it was extremely difficult now as “even some ministers cannot see the President.”