Stakeholders of the agricultural sector have criticized the federal government’s task force initiative to beat down food prices across the country.
The Acting President Yemi Osinbajo had set up a Task Force at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting yesterday to urgently consider measures that would ensure a steady flow of produce to the market and reverse recent price increases.
Giving the directive at the FEC meeting, Osinbajo expressed concern at some of the inflationary rates of food prices, he noted that the Task Force will explore options to promote availability and affordability of food items to Nigerians.
In a chat with AgroNigeria, the stakeholders questioned the practicability of the initiative.
The Chief Executive Officer, Cellulant Nigeria Limited, Bolaji Akinboro asserted that the only way to reduce prices is to invest properly in the country’s agricultural system.
“The only way to reduce prices is to invest properly in Nigeria’s agriculture system- starting from research all the way down to the farm gate. All we need is money and clear policies –money for the development of our research institutions, for our extension systems for our quality control system and certification systems, cold storage systems, warehouse receipt operations, to support the farmers, and lots more”, he said.
He expressed that the government needs to investment more to provide for the country’s teeming population.
“We can’t defy the laws of economics, for a country of almost 200million souls that is investing less than 100 billion naira in its agriculture system. It is only hunger that we will get in return”, he said.
The stakeholders asserted that there was huge informal trans-border trade going on across the country’s major food gateways into the sub-region.
According to the Managing Partner Jaraja E-commerce Limited, Ajibola Alfred “a survey conducted by the NEPC sometime ago showed that there are about 42 border markets and 44 loading points in the major market corridors across Nigeria through which traders carry on informal trading activities. The report indicated that most of the agricultural, minerals snide even manufactured products are taken through these markets and loading points. The government can start by reducing the amount of food through those points to increase availability and reduce the level of speculation”.
Speaking on the need for government to invest in research and development, Ajibola noted that a country that does not pay attention to research and development will keep searching for development.
They also encouraged the use of rail transport to move the products to avoid bottle necks of road blocks, bad roads which contribute to post harvest losses and ultimately increase in prices of foods.