FG announces plans to import 500,000MT of maize, wheat amid rising cost

Following the high-cost of food products in the country, the Federal Government has announced plans to import 250,000 metric tons of maize and 250 metric tons of wheat to satisfy the demand small-scale processors and millers across the country.

The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari who announced this on Monday while addressing journalists, said this move became inevitable following the plans of the government to ameliorate food inflation in the country caused by affordability and exacerbated by availability

“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. The affordability crisis in our food security system has 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”, the Minister said.

The Minister recalled that President Bola Tinubu in March 2024 constituted the Presidential Economic Coordination Council (PECC) under which, the Economic Management Team (EMT) who presented an Accelerated Stabilization and Advancement Plan to the President.

He said part of the decision of the EMT to ameliorate food inflation in the country is a 150-Day Duty Free Import Window for Food Commodities, suspension of duties, tariffs and taxes for the importation of certain food commodities (through land and sea borders) which include Maize, Husked Brown Rice, Wheat and Cowpeas and under this arrangement, imported food commodities will be subjected to a Recommended Retail Price (RRP).

“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.

“Engage relevant stakeholders to set a Guaranteed Minimum Price (GMP) and mop up surplus assorted food commodities to restock the National Strategic Food Reserve, continuous ramp-up production for the 2024/2025 farming cycle”, he noted.

Kyari further stated that there would be a sustained support to smallholder farmers in the ongoing wet season farming through existing government initiatives and the government will strengthen and accelerate Dry Season Farming across the country.

The Minister also noted that the government will embark on aggressive agricultural mechanization and development to reduce drudgery, drive down the cost of production and boost productivity, collaborate with Sub-National to identify irrigable lands and increase land under cultivation and work closely with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation, to rehabilitate and maintain irrigation facilities under river basin authorities across the federation.

He said there will also be the 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.

“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”, the Minister added.

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