FG Suspends Taxes on Importation of Food Commodities

The federal government of Nigeria has announced the suspension of duties, tariffs, and taxes on certain imported food commodities. This decision, revealed in a statement on Monday by Abubakar Kyari, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, affects imports of maize, husked brown rice, wheat, and cowpeas through both land and sea borders.

Kyari indicated that a 150-day duty-free import window will be implemented as part of a broader 180-day plan to address food inflation in the country. This measure is included in the accelerated stabilization and advancement plan recently presented to President Bola Tinubu by the Economic Management Team (EMT) under the Presidential Economic Coordination Council (PECC), which was established in March.

The minister highlighted that rising food prices are driven by multiple factors, including various taxes and levies, infrastructural challenges, and profiteering by marketers and traders.

“Over the past several months, we have all been witnesses to the escalating cost of food items in all parts of the country. There is virtually no food item that has not had its price raised to a level higher than what a good many Nigerians can afford,” Kyari said.

“The affordability crisis in our food security system has been indexed by the data from the National Bureau of Statistics which by the last count, had put food inflation at 40.66%.”

“We have heard the cries of Nigeria over the prices of food items and condiments, with some now describing tomato as gold and proposing a variety of recipes to prepare soups and dishes with some of the overly priced food items.”

“What in the past were regarded as common items such as yam, plantain, potato now command excessively high figures and Nigerians are right to wonder how and why things are the way they are.”

Kyari said imported food commodities will be subjected to a recommended retail price (RRP).

“I am aware that some good citizens might be concerned of the quality of the would be imported food commodities as it relates to the trending worries around genetic composition of food,” the minister said.

“I am glad to reiterate that the government’s position exemplifies standards that would not compromise the safety of the various food items for consumption.”

In addition to the importation by the private sector, Kyari said the government will import 250,000 metric tonnes of wheat and maize.

According to the minister, these imported food commodities in their semi-processed state will target supplies to small-scale processors and millers in the country.

He said the government will collaborate with relevant stakeholders to set a guaranteed minimum price (GMP) and mop up surplus assorted food commodities to restock the national strategic food reserve.

Kyari added that the government will continue to increase production for the 2024/2025 farming cycle.

“The Renewed Hope National Livestock Transformation Implementation Committee will be inaugurated on Tuesday, 9th July 2024 with a view to develop and implement policies that prioritise livestock development and ensure alignment with the National Livestock Transformation Plan,” he said.

“Enhancement of Nutrition Security through: the promotion of production of fortified food commodities and offer necessary support to scale up the Home Garden Initiative by the Office of The First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

He said over the next 14 days, in close collaboration with the presidential food systems coordinating unit (PFSCU) and the EMT, “we will convene with the respective Agencies to finalize the implementation frameworks”.

“We will ensure that information is publicly available to facilitate the participation of all relevant stakeholders across the country. The PFSCU will manage a dashboard for Mr. President, providing him with direct visibility into these interventions and ensuring accountability,” the minister said.

Kyari assured Nigerians that efforts will be made to diligently implement these crucial policies to secure food for all citizens.