FG to Set Up Commodity Board to Tackle Inflation

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As the issue of inflation and hardship in general worsens, the Federal Government is considering the establishment of a National Commodity Board as a solution to tackle food inflation in the country as it becomes increasingly unbearable.

Vice President Kashim Shettima said this during a two-day high-level strategic meeting on climate change, food systems and resource mobilisation held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, in Abuja yesterday.

The Vice President said the two-day event is proof of Nigeria’s efforts at mitigating the effects of climate change and ensuring food security and stability for Nigerians.

According to a statement by his spokesman, Stanley Nkwocha, the board will be given the mandate to assess and regulate food prices, and also maintain a strategic food reserve for stabilising prices of grains especially, and other food items.

Food security was one of the eight areas of priority declared by President Tinubu as part of his Renewed Hope Agenda, which led to the declaration of a state of emergency on food security. The VP mentioned some policy reforms by the administration to ensure food and water availability, as well as affordability, and noted that these reforms are ongoing.

Shettima stated: “Our solution to the potential food crisis has become immediate, medium, and long-term strategies. The short-term strategy entails revitalising the food supply through specific interventions like the distribution of fertilizers and grains to farmers, and households to counteract the effects of subsidy removal; fostering collaboration between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Water Resources for efficient farmland irrigation, ensuring year-round food production, and addressing price volatility by establishing a National Commodity Board.

“This board will continually assess and regulate food prices, maintaining a strategic food reserve for stabilising prices of crucial grains and other food items.”

He assured that the Tinubu administration is fully invested in the restoration of degraded land, and there are ongoing plans “to restore four million hectares, or nearly 10 million acres, of degraded lands within” the borders of the country as its own contribution to the AFR100 Initiative.

Speaking on how the government is handling the security issues that have stopped farmers from working on their farms, he said, “I wish to assure you that we will engage our security architecture to protect the farms and the farmers so that farmers can return to the farmlands without fear of attacks.

“We won’t only make it safe for farmers to return to their farms, but we will also ensure the activation of land banks. There are currently 500,000 hectares of already mapped land that will be used to increase the availability of arable land for farming, which will immediately impact food output,” he added.

Furthermore, Shettima said that the Tinubu administration is also collaborating “with mechanisation companies to clear more forests and make them available for farming,” and the Central Bank of Nigeria “will also continue to play a major role in funding the agricultural value chain.

“We will deploy concessionary capital to the sector, especially towards fertiliser, processing, mechanisation, seeds, chemicals, equipment, feed, labour, among others. The concessionary funds will ensure food is always available and affordable, thereby having a direct impact on Nigeria’s Human Capital Index (HCI). This administration is focused on ensuring the HCI numbers, which currently rank as the 3rd lowest in the world, are improved for increased productivity.”

Shettima restated that frantic efforts by the administration will be enacted to ensure a massive boost in employment and job creation, noting that it “is another presidential area of priority.

“The government will make agriculture attractive for our teeming youth population with a view to creating between 5 to 10 million more jobs for them within the agriculture value chain, working with the current 500,000 hectares of arable land and the several hundreds of thousands more farmlands to be developed in the medium term,” he pointed out.

The vice president said these efforts are part of the federal government’s way of actualizing the “UN-Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development Goals 2 of “Zero Hunger” and African Union Agenda 2063, which aims to transform Africa into a global powerhouse of the future.

“But we can’t achieve this unless we guarantee food security by building the capacity of smallholder farmers who account for about 88% of the total food production in Nigeria.”

He pleaded with the event attendees, including development partners, private investors and the diplomatic community, among others, to ensure the high-level engagement results in a positive outcome.

The African Union Chairman of Food System, Dr Ibrahim Maiyaki, also spoke at the event saying the challenges that will confront Africa in the next 20-30 years could be tackled through three parameters: the continent’s know-how, expertise, and leadership.

“The demographic challenge the continent is facing can be turned into opportunities for Africa through inclusion, job creation, and ability to feed Africa and the rest of the world,” he said.

Also speaking at the event is the National Coordinator of NEPAD, Mrs Gloria Akobundu, who praised President Tinubu for his efforts towards making Nigeria a great nation.

She said: “We are happy with the resolve by the administration of President Bola Tinubu to stand undeterred by any odds in his objective to build a viable, effective and great nation.” Mrs Akobundu said NEPAD decided to convene the stakeholders’ forum in order to strengthen smallholder farmers in Nigeria as a way of addressing the food shortage problem in the country.

“We have gathered key stakeholders from across Nigeria and all around the world to commence the resource mobilisation conversation for smallholder farmers in Nigeria, as well as Africa, and emphasise the urgency of action required in the face of the current and growing food crisis.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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