By Chinyere Anyanwu [email protected]
To forestall the looming food crises and bring down the current skyrocketing prices of food items, the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) has called on the Federal Government to take urgent action ahead of the 2021 harvest season.
Making the call recently in a statement, the AFAN National President, Kabir Ibrahim, as well urged government to resuscitate the Guaranteed Minimum Price (GMP) and National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA). He also tasked government to restock the Strategic Grains Reserve (SGR) between October and November this year.
Ibrahim stated that the looming distortion in the food system by skyrocketing prices of food items could be tamed by taking decisive action in eight weeks when the new harvest would start entering the traditional food markets across the country.
He said: “This week has witnessed a marginal drop in food prices because early maturing crops have started hitting the market and the trend is likely to continue until it reaches a crescendo at the end of September and mxid-October. The right time to intervene by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) through the SGR is at this point by resuscitating the GMP and transparently placing supply contracts. We must set up a separate produce purchasing committee comprising upright individuals to work with the SGR to transparently perform this exercise.”
According to Ibrahim, “the SGR should be freed from any encumbrance occasioned by the concession done between 2016 and 2018, which left it with a mere 400,000 storage capacity out of its bandied 1.3 million capacity attained between 2008 and 2010.
“Whatever is strategically reserved can then be released in the first and second quarters of 2022 to mitigate any inflationary trends and this intervention can be done again during the same period in the last quarter of 2022 for the year 2023.”
Part of benefits of such moves would be that farmers will get a good price to be able to sustainably produce, the consumers will have fairly affordable prices and Nigeria will ultimately have sustainable food sufficiency and the much de- sired food security to bring about sustainable development which will eventually lead to attainment of the 17 SDGs in the medium term as well as the ultimate Agenda 2050.
The AFAN president noted that the above ideals could be achieved through the harmonisation of all the initiatives by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), NALDA, FMARD and all cross-cutting efforts like the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI), Food Security Council (FSC), National Economic Council (NEC), among others, in the agriculture space.
Furthermore, he said “Mr. President should as- sent to the NFRA and NADF Bills being processed by the National Assembly as soon as they are presented. He should reappraise the FMARD by appointing competent persons to drive it and appoint a special adviser, who knows what to do on food security, to work directly with the Food Security Council (FSC).”
Commending the current administration for having taken far reaching initiatives to make agriculture work in Nigeria, Ibrahim listed the CBN Anchor Borrowers Scheme, the assent to several bills such as the Seed Act 2019, the PVP Act 2021, among several others, as some of those efforts.
“The obvious threat factor to the attainment of food sufficiency for now, however, is probity, competence and knowing what to do in the management of the entire food system and this calls for reinvigorating it by appointing capable and competent hands with integrity,” he stated.