Home Latest Insights | News Nigerian Government Announces Plan to Import Foods, Unveils Measures to Address Skyrocketing Food Prices

Nigerian Government Announces Plan to Import Foods, Unveils Measures to Address Skyrocketing Food Prices

Nigerian Government Announces Plan to Import Foods, Unveils Measures to Address Skyrocketing Food Prices

In response to the escalating food prices and a deepening hunger crisis across Nigeria, the federal government led by President Bola Tinubu has unveiled a detailed plan to import select food products.

The measures, set to be implemented over the next 180 days, were announced by the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari.

Nigeria is currently grappling with a severe food crisis, driven by more than 40% food inflation. The rising costs have placed immense pressure on households, particularly those with limited incomes, exacerbating food insecurity and hunger across the nation. Recent reforms by the federal government, including the partial removal of fuel subsidies, and floating of the country’s forex market, intended to stabilize the economy, have inadvertently compounded the situation, making immediate intervention critical.

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As part of its measures to address this crisis, the government is introducing a 150-day duty-free import window for essential food commodities. This initiative involves the suspension of duties, tariffs, and taxes on the importation of specific food items through land and sea borders.

The prioritized commodities include maize, husked brown rice, wheat, and cowpeas. By removing these financial barriers, the government aims to make these staples more affordable for consumers. The imported food commodities will be subjected to a Recommended Retail Price (RRP) to ensure that the benefits of the duty-free window are passed on to the public.

“In addition to the importation by private sector, Federal Government will import 250,000MT of Wheat and 250,000MT of Maize,” the government announced.

In addition to facilitating private sector importation, the government itself will import 250,000 metric tons each of wheat and maize. These semi-processed commodities are intended for distribution to small-scale processors and millers throughout the country, enhancing local processing capacities and ensuring a steady supply of essential food items.

To further stabilize food prices and ensure availability, the government plans to engage relevant stakeholders in establishing a Guaranteed Minimum Price (GMP). This initiative will also involve purchasing surplus food commodities to restock the National Strategic Food Reserve, thereby cushioning the market against price volatility and shortages.

Recognizing the importance of sustainable agricultural practices, the government said it is launching a strategic engagement involving youth and women across the federation for the immediate greenhouse cultivation of horticultural crops such as tomatoes and peppers. This initiative aims to increase production volumes, stabilize prices, and address food shortages.

Also in a move to enhance livestock development, the government will inaugurate the “Renewed Hope National Livestock Transformation Implementation Committee” on July 9, 2024. This committee will be tasked with developing and implementing policies that prioritize livestock development, ensuring alignment with the National Livestock Transformation Plan. This initiative is expected to boost livestock production and contribute to overall food security.

The administration also plans to scale up support for the Homs Green Initiative, led by the office of the First Lady.

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), along with economists and other stakeholders, has emphasized the need for the government to reopen the country’s borders to legitimate food importation. This move is seen as essential to addressing the growing hunger crisis.

Despite these calls, Tinubu reiterated his administration’s commitment to boosting domestic food production. In a February address from the State House, the President underscored the need for indigenous solutions to tackle the forex crisis, insecurity, and food security challenges.

He noted that the administration is dedicated to eradicating rent-seeking practices associated with food importation and fraud.

“My administration is dedicated to evolving home-grown solutions to tackle our nation’s food security challenges head-on,” the President stated. “I will not establish a price control board, nor will I approve the importation of food. We must extricate ourselves from this predicament because importation only enables rent seekers to perpetrate fraud and mismanagement at our collective expense.”

The success of these measures, according to the government, hinges on the cooperation and collaboration of all relevant ministries, departments, agencies (MDAs), and stakeholders. The approach aims not only to stabilize food prices and ensure food security but also to foster sustainable agricultural practices and economic empowerment across Nigeria.

Many Nigerians, especially economists, have hailed this move, noting that the initiatives represent a critical step toward alleviating hunger and building a more resilient food system as the nation faces one of its most severe food crises in recent history.

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