Tinubu orders massive importation of rice and other food items to reduce cost of living in Nigeria

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President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has ordered massive importation of rice and other items to address skyrocketing food prices in the country.

Abubakar Kyari , the minister of Agriculture and Food Security disclosed this on Monday while outlined the implementation of the Presidential Accelerated Stabilisation and Advancement Plan, an initiative of President Bola Tinubu, to bring about food security and economic stability.

In recent times, Nigerians have battled high food prices since the president announced the removal of petrol subsidies last year and also floated the naira so the value of the Nigerian currency can be determined by market forces.

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However, the government on Monday said it cannot allow this situation to persist.

Kyari said while there are ongoing agricultural initiatives, programmes and projects under the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, state governments also have theirs.

“We must respond to the creeping availability crisis. As the government continues to encourage agricultural production on a sustainable and profitable basis for farmers, the time lag between cultivation and harvest makes it inevitable for the Government to kick in stop-gap measures that will bring tremendous relief to Nigerians,” Mr Kyari said.

Below are some of the key highlights of the policy.

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Duty-free importation of food commodities

The minister said that the federal government had also approved a 150-day duty free import window for food commodities for the importation of certain commodities — through land and sea borders — under the program.

“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). These commodities include Maize, Husked Brown Rice, Wheat and Cowpeas.”

Kyari explained that under this arrangement, imported food commodities will be subjected to a Recommended Retail Price (RRP).

“I am aware that some good citizens might be concerned about the quality of the would-be imported food commodities as it relates to the trending worries around the 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,” Mr Kyari was quoted as saying in the statement.

In his statement, Mr Onanuga said not only will the government now allow duty-free import for the private sector for 150 days, the 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.”

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Collaborate with relevant parties

He said the government will engage relevant parties to set a Guaranteed Minimum Price (GMP) and mop up surplus assorted food commodities to restock the National Strategic Food Reserve while noting that it will continue the ramp-up production for the 2024/2025 farming cycle.

Kyari noted that the government will sustain support to smallholder farmers in the ongoing wet season farming through existing government initiatives.

Accelerate dry-season farming

The government also announced that it will work to strengthen and accelerate dry season farming across the country, embark on aggressive agricultural mechanisation and development to reduce drudgery, drive down the cost of production, boost productivity and collaborate with sub-national to identify irrigable lands and increase land under cultivation.

Kyari added that the government will work closely with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation, to rehabilitate and maintain irrigation facilities under river basin authorities across the federation.

And to develop 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, stabilise prices, and address food shortages.

Use vacant Nigerian Military land for farming

Kyari also said the government is 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 secure available arable lands for cultivation.

Livestock Transformation Plan

Kyari said the Renewed Hope National Livestock Transformation Implementation Committee will be inaugurated on Tuesday to develop and implement policies that prioritise livestock development and ensure alignment with the National Livestock Transformation Plan.

He said the government will enhance 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.”

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