The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development , Chief Audu Ogbeh Yesterday, apologised to Nigerians for the continual high cost of food commodities in the markets.
The Minister gave the apology while addressing Journalist on the forthcoming National Conference of the Transformation of Nigerian Livestock Industry to commence in Abuja from September 12-14 at the International Conference Centre.
According to Ogbeh “To Nigerians again,I am sorry that food Prices are still high, we are not happy about that, “But we are not going to turn around and bully the farmers. We will persuade them and as we give them more inputs we hope things will stabilise so that non farmers too can eat well, because we don’t want any Nigerian hungry just because he or she is an end user of farm product” he said
The Minister said he has been appealing to middlemen and transporters,noting he has seen practical examples of why prices are so high.
He recalled that while in Ekiti,they had stopped where he priced yam weighing almost 3kg for N300, only to price a similar tuber in Lagos for N1500.
“The transporter will tell you the roads are so bad,he loses tires,people harass them on the way and so on, but that is not enough to add N1200 “I am appealing to farmers and middlemen saying let us all enjoy the surplus so that no sector puts pressure on others living in the cities”he said
Chief Ogbeh said “Some body has advocated we impose price control but said,”there is no way we can pass a law saying a tuber of yam must cost a certain amount the long term programme is to increase production”.
“The current prices are going to stimulate investment and more participation,it is very difficult to do price control in a free economy,you cant,if you attempt it,you are looking for trouble”.
Speaking on the coming Conference scheduled to hold September the Minister said” This conference has become very critical in order to address the myriad of issues affecting the livestock sub sector which includes the recurring and frequent crop farmers/ pastoralists conflicts, cattle banditry resulting in wanton loss of lives, properties and depletion of our national herd.
“Equally worrisome is the inability to tap into the abundant potentials in the sector hence the sub-sector has not been fully explored in terms of supplying the animal protein needs of Nigerians, poverty alleviation, revenue generation and foreign exchange for the country” he said
He noted that in line with the Federal government’s desire to diversify the economy through agriculture and addressing some of the institutional constraints within the agricultural sector.
He said” the Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) known as the Green Alternative was launched. The APP revolves round “
Building agribusiness economy capable of delivering sustained prosperity by meeting domestic food security goals,generating exports and supporting sustainable income and job growth”
Ogbeh noted that the sub-sector is bedeviled by many constraints which include low productive breeds of livestock,conflicts between Nomadic pastoral/trans-humance system due to feed and fodder insecurity,income loss among others.
He said the conference is aimed at addressing key thematic areas including access to land and land tenure security, infrastructure, access to finance and markets.