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FG plans importation of rice paddy and maize seeds to reduce inflation

The federal government is currently looking at plans to approve through an Executive Order the importation of paddy rice to millers to stem the growing tide of food inflation across the country.

Also, the federal government will consider the importation of maize and rice seeds to farmers to boost production output in these staple crops.

This is contained in the draft Accelerated Stabilisation and Advancement Plan (ASAP) recently submitted by the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun to the President.

The document recommends to the President, a slew of executive orders to boost the effectiveness of the ASAP across different segments reflecting the current economic problems bedeviling the country.

These include Executive orders on inflation reduction, employment generation, non-oil export promotion, prudent financial management, and tax information consolidation.

On inflation reduction, the document recommends the following;

  • Import duty & VAT suspension on specified items
  • Importation of paddy rice by millers
  • Import duty exchange rate peg

On support plans for individual and commercial farmers across the country, the document recommended that within the first month of implementation, the federal government should grant approval “for immediate importation of Rice and Maize seeds Rice– 10,000MT (100,000Ha), Maize – 10,000MT (500,000Ha)”

▪ Onboard 2 million farmers across four value chains successfully to enhance productivity and sustainability.

President Tinubu’s earlier stance on food imports

The proposed plan to begin the import of rice paddy and maize seeds by the federal government conflicts with earlier statements by President Tinubu on food imports earlier this year.

The President in an address to State Chairpersons of his All Progressive Congress (APC) had stated that his administration will not continue food imports hoping to turn the present challenge into an opportunity for the future.

The Minister of Information also reiterated the President’s stance in an address to state Governors saying that a decision has been taken already.

Furthermore, the President had earlier directed the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to activate the full implementation Export Prohibition Act and halt food exports to other countries as a measure to ensure steady supply within Nigeria. Specific food items targeted in that regard include; rice, maize, beans, and millet.

What you should know

Nigeria is currently battling a food security crisis with food inflation at 40.5% and about 31 million people projected to face severe food insecurity during the lean season in August. Furthermore, the price of staple foods especially grains has seen an over 100% increase in prices in the past year.

  • The price of rice has risen by around 169% in the past one year and reached almost N90,000 per bag around March and April this year. However, a report by Nairametrics later revealed that prices have dropped by almost 20%.
  • Rice millers face the challenge of an insufficient supply of rice for processing in the country. The approval to import rice paddy could result in a significant increase in the supply of rice to markets necessary to see a decrease in prices.
  • The Governor of Lagos state, Babajide Sanwo-Olu had earlier complained of the insufficiency of rice paddy supply to the Imota rice mill resulting in no significant production from the plant. He had promised to request the federal government to allow importation to the mill.

Source: TheTimes.com.ng.

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