In an effort to curtail unfair trade malpractices and exploitation of Nigerian farmers by foreigners, the Federal Government on Tuesday inaugurated an inter-ministerial standing committee to oversee the implementation of a memo on the Promotion of Agri-Business in Nigeria through Right Farm Gate Pricing and Ban of Foreigners from Purchasing Agricultural Commodities at the Farm Gates.
The document was jointly presented by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on March 9, 2022 and was approved by the Federal Executive Council.
At the inauguration in Abuja, Otumba Adeniyi Adebayo, Minister of Industry Trade and Investment, said that the move was part of government’s efforts to provide the enabling environment for the commodity subsector to thrive.
Adebayo, noted that the memo is “aimed at addressing the challenges impeding the development of the agricultural commodity subsector of the economy, curtailing unfair trade malpractices and exploitation of Nigerian farmers by foreigners and promoting competitive premium pricing as impetus for increased productivity in the commodity subsector amongst others.”
He decried the exploitation of farmers by foreigners who come to Nigeria to mop up agricultural commodities at the farm gates and in turn offer farmers prices below market value.
He said: This situation has indeed led to the failure of many contractual agreements between farmers and indigenous off-takers. It has also affected the production capacity of our local factories due to the fact that foreigners buy off supplies and deprive the factories of required stocks.
“The current practice of direct purchases of agricultural commodities at unfair prices by foreigners at our farm-gates poses serious dangers which include: reduction in farmers’ income, declining productivity in the agricultural sector, unemployment and insecurity.”
Adebayo, further said: “a number of activities have been outlined for implementation and the Committee is expected to ensure that they are properly articulated and implemented for the growth and development of our economy.”
He charged the committee to come up with appropriate implementation mechanism and guidelines for implementing the approved FEC Memo as well as liaise with States, Local Governments and other relevant stakeholders nation-wide to enforce the ban and compliance.
Other terms of reference for the committee include: “To facilitate establishment of enforcement organs in the States and Local Governments; To facilitate signing of Executive Order by Mr. President, specifying penalties and fines for violators.
“To liaise with the State Governments for establishment of commodity aggregation centres for export in some strategic locations nation-wide and “To carry out periodic assessment (quarterly) on the implementation and Honourable Minister,” he said.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Evelyn Ngige, said the committee is saddled with the duty of ensuring 100 per cent implementation of the approved memo.
Ngige, represented by the Director, Human Resource Management in the Ministry, Mr Yisau Adepoju, said that part of the mandate of the ministry is to formulate and implement policies and programmes to attract investment, boost industrialization, increase trade and export, and develop enterprises with a view to promoting economic growth, create jobs and generate wealth.
“As you are aware, the Ministry is passionate about the promotion and development of the non-oil sector having realized the enormous potentials of the sector and its contributions to the national economy.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that wealth from crude oil is not sustainable given the fact that the oil wells will certainly dry up someday. Nigeria is naturally endowed with vast and fertile arable lands suitable for production of many commodities.
“The production, processing and marketing of these commodities not only provide food security but also jobs, income and foreign exchange, amongst others,” she said.
The permanent secretary, further said the ministry has put in place a number of programmes and initiatives to reposition the subsector.
According to Ngige, the initiatives include the campaign on patronage of Made-in-Nigeria products, Nigeria Agri-business and Agro-industry Development Initiative, NAADI, Domestication of lobal GAP, E Commerce and the Commerce 160 Initiative, amongst others.
On his part, the Chairman of the Committee, Mr Suleman Audu, expressed the readiness and willingness of the committee to provide the required leadership and coordination to ensure efficient implementation of its mandate.
Audu, said the assignment has come just-in-time when the present administration has reiterated its focus on the development of the agricultural sector in Nigeria.
“Indeed, the full implementation of the FEC approval on Promotion of Agribusiness in Nigeria through Right Farm Gate Pricing and Ban of Foreigners/Representatives from Purchasing Agricultural Commodities at the Farm Gates will no doubt ensure that farmers get commensurate value for their hard-work, eliminate the threats to sustenance of the nation’s non-oil xport, particularly in the agric-commodity sub-sector and strengthen Government’s efforts at diversifying the economy away from oil and gas.
“We will roll our sleeves and shall hold the inaugural meeting immediately after the successful inauguration. We assure your excellency that we shall work as a team. We shall be guided by the terms of reference and the interest of the nation,” he said.
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