December brings mixed feelings. Emotionally, it is good for the heart, it renews family love but for the pocket it is a drain. Food prices always go up in Nigeria and in most cases never come down and this year will not be any different.
Talking about 2020 and all that we have gone through especially with the coronavirus pandemic and economic recessions all over the world, food prices are always bound to double. With Christmas approaching fast the pressure on food prices and other household items continue to rise.
Everything has become so expensive such that monthly take-home cannot take working class home. The question on most people’s lips is, what is government doing about this?
*In July 2020, VP Osinbajo instructed the state governors at NEC meeting to use social protection schemes and resume implementation of the Agriculture for Food and Job Plan (AFJP), a major take-off for the agriculture component of the Nigeria Economic and Sustainability Plan (NESP) targeting smallholder farmers. The project would mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 on the economy and livelihoods of farmers by creating more access to food.
*The Mass agricultural programme of the National Economic Sustainability Plan where about 5 million farmers have been enumerated and geo-tagged them on their farmland, this is to boost local production and ensure that the loss in the agriculture produce is minimised.
*Reduction in duties on tractors from 35% to 10%
*Reduction in duties on motor vehicles for the transportation of goods from 35% to 10%
In order to achieve a satisfactory food security, self-sufficiency in food production must be major pillar of a country’s economic policy, the Nigeria government must ensure we produce what we consume and consume what we produce.
The Nigeria government in partnership with Brazilian government facilitates the financing of the provision of machinery, equipment, input, and services because the Brazilian government has a lot of advantage in agriculture, and equipment production.
Vietnam’s demand for over 2.5million tons of cashew is unmet. The entire cashew we produce in Nigeria is sent to Vietnam and it still doesn’t scratch the surface.
The busiest yam market in Africa, Zaki Ibiam located in Benue State, producing almost 20 million tons annually, accounting for 70-78% of global production.
The Zaki Ibiam International Yam Market is the biggest source of employment and revenue in Ukum Local Government Area. Benue State is acclaimed as the Food Basket of Nation. It accounts for 70% of Nigeria’s soybean production and is a leader in turning out rice, beans, cassava, sorghum, sesame, sweet potato, millet, and cocoyam. But in this state whose mainstay is agriculture, yam reigns.
In June 2020, the Vice President, Prof, Yemi Osinbajo commissioned a storage facility in it, meant to serve as a hub for even the neighbouring Nasarawa and Taraba states.
We are ranked 9th largest in terms of arable land for cultivation and more than half of that uncultivated, it is becoming clearer that the world will be looking Nigeria in particular as its food basket.
We must overcome the challenges of farmer/herder clashes, conflict in the northeast and northwest because, these are areas where we also have arable and vast land but challenge of insecurity has made the farmers in those regions stopped cultivation, and hence cause food inflation.
For us as a nation, it is a great window of opportunity to harness our countless God given privileges that exist in the agricultural value chain towards building a sustainable economy thereby creating hope for realising our much desired national development and sustained food security.