The federal government has approved measures to cut down the prices of food in the market. The Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, disclosed this to State House correspondents after the federal executive meeting presided over by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa.
It would be recalled that the federal government last week set up a task force on food security to check the rising cost of food items in the market with a one week mandate to report back to the council on Wednesday.
Members of the Task Force include Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh; Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun; Minister of Industry, Trade & Development, Dr. Okey Enelamah; Minister of Transportation, Honorable Rotimi Amaechi; Minister for Water Resources, Engr Suleiman Adam; and Minister of Labour & Employment, Dr Chris Ngige.
According to Ogbeh, the hike in cost is “not due to shortage but the high cost of transportation” as food items are generally moved across Nigeria with heavy trucks and the price of diesel which has gone up has, therefore, led to the increase in prices. He listed some of the measures which include using railway wagons to transport food items, work with state governments to reduce delays experienced by trucks along the roads through all sort of taxes by local governments, stop multiple taxations and greenhouse emissions.
He also said the government had decided to adopt the “Ivory Coast model” in which trucks distributing food items are given special labels. Also speaking, Minister of Investment, Trade, and Industry, Enelamah said FEC also approved a set of measures to attract investment and boost local production of some essential commodities, such as tomatoes.
The minister also clarified that the government has no plans of controlling the price of food in the market but rather to checkmate the rising cost of food. Ogbeh said the council approved a set of measures to boost production and attract investment into the Nigerian tomato sub-sector as according to him, this is a sector that has lots of farmers. In a state like Kano alone, there are 75,000 farmers and so it is important to encourage them. According to him, the approved set of measures is to encourage them both in local production as well as to attract more investment into tomato farming, processing all the way, the value chain to how tomato gets to our tables.
He explained these measures will include ways to make sure we plant tomato round the year, things like greenhouse equipment, making sure that they can come in without any barriers or duties. They also include the use of both tariff and nontariff measures to address the issues Nigerians are most concerned about, which are the issue of dumping, issues around quality and the standards of what we consume.