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Nigeria Suspends Duty on Rice and Wheat, Approves ₦2 Trillion to Combat Food Inflation

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In a decisive move to address soaring food prices, Nigeria’s Federal Government has announced the suspension of import duties on rice, wheat, and other essential commodities. This measure is part of a broader ₦2 trillion package aimed at tackling food inflation and ensuring food security for the nation’s 200 million citizens.

The suspension of import duties, effective immediately, is designed to reduce the cost of imported food items and alleviate the financial burden on consumers. This decision comes amid a steep rise in food prices, driven by a combination of factors including currency devaluation, logistical challenges, and global supply chain disruptions.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration emphasized that this temporary suspension is a strategic intervention to stabilize the market and make staple foods more affordable. “We are committed to ensuring that every Nigerian has access to affordable and nutritious food. This duty suspension is one of several measures we are implementing to achieve this goal,” said Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed.

The ₦2 trillion package also includes subsidies for local farmers, investments in agricultural infrastructure, and initiatives to boost domestic food production. The government aims to increase support for smallholder farmers, enhance storage and distribution systems, and promote the adoption of modern farming techniques.

Agriculture Minister Mohammed Abubakar highlighted the importance of these initiatives in building a resilient agricultural sector. “Our goal is to reduce dependence on food imports by enhancing local production. By supporting our farmers and improving infrastructure, we can achieve food self-sufficiency and create jobs,” Abubakar stated.

The policy shift has been met with mixed reactions. Supporters argue that suspending import duties will provide immediate relief to consumers and help stabilize food prices in the short term. They also see it as a necessary step to mitigate the impact of global economic pressures on Nigeria’s food market.

Critics, however, caution that the suspension might discourage local production if not managed properly. They stress the need for a balanced approach that supports both local farmers and consumers. “While this policy can provide short-term relief, it’s crucial to ensure that it doesn’t undermine long-term agricultural development,” said economic analyst Fola Akinbade.

Nigeria’s food inflation has been a persistent challenge, with rates consistently in double digits. The high cost of food has contributed to broader inflationary pressures, affecting the overall economy. Addressing this issue is a top priority for the government, which seeks to enhance economic stability and improve living standards.

In addition to the duty suspension, the government is exploring other measures to control inflation, such as regulating transportation costs and reducing taxes on agricultural inputs. There is also a focus on enhancing security in farming regions, as conflicts and banditry have disrupted agricultural activities and exacerbated food shortages.

The international community has taken note of Nigeria’s efforts to combat food inflation. Organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have expressed support for policies that promote food security and economic resilience. Collaboration with international partners is expected to provide technical and financial assistance to bolster Nigeria’s agricultural sector.

Despite the challenges, there is optimism that these measures will yield positive results. The government’s comprehensive approach aims to create a more stable and sustainable food supply chain, benefiting both producers and consumers.

As Nigeria navigates its way through this period of economic adjustment, the focus remains on ensuring that the nation’s food system is robust, equitable, and capable of withstanding future shocks. The suspension of import duties on essential commodities is a significant step toward achieving these objectives and providing hope for millions of Nigerians struggling with high food prices.

Source of this article: businessday.ng

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