Sunday, July 14, 2024

Food Security: Nigerian Govt. Suspends Food Imports Duty

The Federal Government of Nigeria on Monday announced a 150-day duty-free import window for food commodities as it stepped up efforts to tackle rising inflation which had impoverished many Nigerians.

The government also expressed its decision to collaborate with states to expand land cultivation across the country.

Also, the government suspended duties, tariffs and taxes for the importation of certain food commodities through land and sea borders.

Among other things, the latest directive is expected to reduce demand for forex by food importers. In 2023, Nigerians spent $2.13bn to import food items from foreign countries.

The quarterly statistics of the Central Bank of Nigeria showed that the country exported large amounts of food from foreign countries despite being touted as the food basket of Africa.

The high food import bill is a concern for the government. The country has a large agricultural sector, and there have been efforts to boost local production to reduce the dependence on food imports. However, factors such as inadequate infrastructure, insecurity, and climate change have hindered progress in the sector.

The government had earlier ruled out the importation of food as part of strategies to address the high costs of foodstuffs and the economic hardship troubling the country.

Speaking at the press conference held in Abuja, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari, said that 150 days of duty-free imports would be valid for commodities including maize, husked brown rice, wheat, and cowpeas.

The initiative which is part of the Presidential Accelerated Stabilisation and Advancement Plan would also enable the Federal Government to import 250,000 metric tonnes of wheat and 250,000MT of maize.

The minister explained that the imported food commodities in their semi-processed state would target supplies to the small-scale processors and millers across the country.

Nigeria, Others Most Hit by High Food Inflation

The minister stated that in addition to the importation by the private sector, 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.”

Kyari explained that the advancement plan was an initiative of President Bola Tinubu to bring about food security and economic stability to Nigeria.

He noted that over the past several months, “we have all been witnesses to the escalating cost of food items in all parts of the country. There is virtually no food item that has not had its price raised to a level higher than what a good many Nigerians can afford.”

The minister stated that the affordability crisis in our food security system had been indexed by the data from the National Bureau of Statistics which by the last count, had put food inflation at 40.66 per cent.

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