New Telegraph

FG Considers Commodity Board To Check Rising Food Prices

…to deploy security forces to protect farmers, secure farmlands

The Federal Government has hinted at plans to establish a National Commodity Board to regulate the prices of food and checkmate inflation.

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

According to him, in tackling price volatility, the board would be given the mandate to assess and regulate food prices, as well as maintain a strategic food reserve for stabilizing prices of crucial grains and other food items.

He said the two-day event was an attestation of Nigeria’s efforts at mitigating the effects of climate change and ensuring food security for Nigerians.

Recalling that food security was one of the eight areas of priority declared by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as part of his Renewed Hope Agenda, which led to the declaration of a state of emergency on food security, the Vice President highlighted ongoing policy reforms by the administration to ensure food and water availability, as well as affordability.

“Our solution to the potential food crisis has become immediate, medium, and long-term strategies. The short-term strategy entails revitalizing 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 stabilizing prices of crucial grains and other food items,” he stated.

Shettima assured that while the Tinubu administration was fully invested in the restoration of degraded land, there are ongoing plans “to restore four million hectares, or nearly 10 million acres, of degraded lands within” the nation’s borders as its contribution to the AFR100 Initiative.

On how the government was handling the security challenges that have prevented 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 is 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.”

Shettima added that the Tinubu administration was also collaborating “with mechanization companies to clear more forests and make them available for farming,” even as 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 fertilizer, processing, mechanization, seeds, chemicals, equipment, feed, and 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,” he added.

The Vice President also restated frantic efforts by the administration “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 to create 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 hun

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