An Economist, Mr Titus Okuroumu, has urged Federal Government to urgently provide the newly discovered high-yielding seedlings to farmers to drive down inflation rate in the country.
Okuroumu, former Director in Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), gave the advice in an interview with newsmen on Wednesday in Lagos.
He also advised government to build more silos and increase budgetary allocation to agriculture to boost food production. The former director was reacting to National Bureau of Statistic’s (NBS) report which indicated that the country’s Food Index increased by 0.37 per cent points to 20.28 per cent in July from 19.91 per cent recorded in June. The NBS report noted that the increase represented the highest year-on-year increase in food inflation since the beginning of the new series in 2009.
The rise in the index was caused by increase in prices of bread and cereals, meat, fish, oils and fats, coffee, tea and cocoa, potatoes, yam and other tubers and vegetables.
Okuroumu said although there was decrease in Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measured inflation from 16.10 per cent in June to 16.05 per cent in July, more measures needed to be taken to reduce it to single digit.
He added that high food prices occasioned by insufficient food production should not be allowed to militate against downward inflation rate in the face of the country’s vast fertile soil.
According to him, high yielding seedlings found by various agricultural institutes should be urgently given to cooperative societies for distribution to farmers. He said “it is worrisome that slightly above a N100 billion was allocated to Ministry of Agriculture.
“Adequate funding is necessary, especially now that the sector is one of the most reliable aspects of the country’s economic growth plan. “The country’s population needs more food to guarantee food security and employment.
“The government, as a matter of urgency, should build more silos and encourage individuals with adequate incentives to establish more silos in the country. “The current 33 silos in the country are inadequate to guarantee food sufficiency and preservation.”
He urged the private sector to adequately drive the processes and exploit all the value chains in the sector to enable agriculture to contribute to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He said the country would be an exporter of food to other climes if government increased allocation to the sector.