High cost of food hits the country, FG now laments
The Federal Government has expressed concern over the continuous rise in the prices of food and other commodities, prompting protests in Niger and Kano.
The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Olawale Edun, addressed a bilateral meeting with a visiting German delegation led by the country’s Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Svenja Shulze, in Abuja on Monday.
Edun explained that the situation, which has sparked growing discontent among the citizenry, was driven by the forces of demand and supply in the country.
Worried by the increasing price of commodities, some youths and women resented what they perceived as the mass purchase of food items for hoarding and exporting outside the country.
The state government blamed food speculators for the protests.
The police noted they used “minimum force” to disperse protesters who blocked the Minna-Bida Road and arrested some whose activities were obstructing vehicular and human movement.
Similarly, Kano State Governor, Abba Yusuf, lamented on Monday that many people in his state were living in misery amid starvation and acute hunger.
Yusuf said inflation had terribly outpaced incomes, resulting in deaths, as several residents could not cope with the rising cost of living.
In response to current realities, Edun said the only way to address the situation was to boost agricultural production, in particular, to force down inflation.
Speaking alongside Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite, Edun said, “I think the issue of rising prices is of concern to the government and everybody in Nigeria,” and some major steps were being taken to address the situation.
He said, “It is the issue of demand and supply and a lot of emphasis has been placed on increasing agricultural production, in particular.
“The president has intervened in that sector to provide grain, fertilisers to farmers and to bring additional acreage, rice, wheat, maize, and cassava – to increase the output and thereby bring down prices and that will help bring down inflation.
“And, of course, we are in the middle of the dry season farming and we are looking forward to a good dry season harvest that will ameliorate price, in particular, and the price level in Nigeria, in general.”
Edun highlighted that the partnership with Germany presents an opportunity for skills development between both parties, emphasizing its potential to enhance job creation and alleviate poverty.
While corroborating Edun, Uzoka-Anite said the partnership with Germany was aimed at developing Nigeria’s Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) subsector.
She added that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) would soon be signed by both countries in this regard to improve access to finance for women-owned enterprises.
The minister said the collaboration will further enhance talent acquisition and challenge, and develop renewable energy, in line with Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda, which partly aimed at industrialising the country.
She said supporting the SMEs could add about 55 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), adding that though both countries currently have strong mutually beneficial relationship, it could get better.
On her part, Shulze said both countries had established cooperation in common interest, pointing out that there are currently over 90 German companies operating in Nigeria.
She attested to the abundance of creative young talents in the country, saying Nigeria’s security challenges can only be addressed by tackling the underlying causes, including jobs and education, rather than militarily.
She stressed that Germany was looking to deepen its cooperation with Nigeria.
The federal government through the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari, had earlier announced the government had commenced the massive production of food crops to bring down the prices of food items across the country.
He said the target of the government was to reduce food inflation, describing it as the major reason for the high rate of inflation in Nigeria’s economy.
Kyari disclosed this to journalists after hosting the Governor of Jigawa State, Umar Namadi, at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security in Abuja.