Agric Experts Outline Solutions to Rising Food Inflation

Some agriculture experts have proffered solutions in addressing the rising food inflation in the country.

The experts said this in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)yesterday in Lagos, while reacting to the May inflation figure.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Nigeria’s headline inflation rate increased to 33.95 per cent in May 2024.

The NBS said this in its Consumer Price Index  and Inflation Report for May released on Saturday.

According to the report, the figure is 0.26 per cent points higher against the 33.69 per cent recorded in April 2024.

It said on a year-on-year basis, the headline inflation rate in May 2024 was 11.54 per cent higher than the rate recorded in May 2023 at 22.41 per cent.

The report said the food inflation rate in May 2024 increased to 40.66 per cent on a year-on-year basis, which was 15.84 per cent higher against 24.82 per cent recorded in May 2023.

The NBS said in May 2024, food inflation on a year-on-year basis was highest in Kogi with 46.32 per cent followed by  Ekiti with 44.94 per cent and Adamawa with the lowest figure of 31.72 per cent.

An agriculture analyst, Mr Akin Alabi,  said the subsidisation of farm inputs to local farmers would help in crashing the growing food inflation.

“The rising food inflation in the latest NBS report  indicates the need for an urgent action by the government.

“There is an urgent need for the government to begin to subsidise farm inputs for smallholder farmers.

“Subsiding farm inputs for local farmers will help reduce the growing food inflation in the country,” he said.

Alabi also called for the set-up and implementation of a commodity board price.

“The government needs a monitoring agency to monitor the prices of food as it leaves the farm to the market.

“Sometimes, middlemen intentionally inflate the price of food items, and exploit the average buyer with exorbitant prices.

“For example, they should target major markets to monitor the prices, but again you cannot dictate food prices when you have not subsidised the inputs for farmers.

“As a country, we must involve inter-state partnerships, each must recognise their crop strengths and exchange with lacking states,” Alabi said.

On his part, Mr Omotunde Banjoko, an agriculture analyst and farmer, explained that the reasons for persistent food inflation were multifaceted.

Banjoko noted that high cost of transportation was a factor to increase in food prices.

“It costs a lot to transport agro-produce from where they are being cultivated to the markets.

“Even petrol sells as high as N600 per litre in some states and N800 and above in other states. All these logistics cost are also factored into the cost of cultivation as well as sales.

“The cost of crop cultivation is going up on a weekly basis, hence food inflation is imminent.

“For instance, in poultry and animal farming, the cost of feed is rather unpredictable and increasing on a daily basis.

“Currently, a lot of poultry and animal farms have shut down in recent months due to these increasing costs, so it is not about making profits.

“Only those few who are able to meet up the cost of cultivation are still in business. So, we have less food production,” Banjoko said.

He explained that the cost of food items would keep increasing with closure of more farms.

“The government should help subsidise the cost of food cultivation in the country and harmonisation of taxes for agro-produce.

“We heard the government is already on it, and if implemented it will be a right step in the right direction in ending food inflation.

“Multiple taxation on farmers should be stopped to address this food inflation. Farmers sometimes incur more costs in multiple taxation,” he said.

Also speaking, Dr Ismail Olawale, a strategic agriculture communication expert, said multiple taxation and adequate transportation of agro-produce must be addressed.

“We do not need economic statistics to begin to explain the effects of this inflation, it is something everyone is witnessing.

“In the northwest, farmers bring in so much produce and livestock to sell without greed.

“However, the middlemen are the major problems, they buy the produce from the farmers in bulk and middlemen sell it at exploitative prices.

“The middlemen do not only buy these items but the hoard them to increase the prices later. Some even sell these produce to neighbouring countries at the detriment of the locals.

“They sell to the highest bidders and allow the average Nigerian bear the brunt of the cost,” Olawale said.

He added that taxes collected from farmers at the border of every state during transportation of these produce were factored into the price of the produce.

“All these are underlying factors that influence the food inflation in the country. If the government can handle this illegal multiple taxations on agro-produce, the food inflation will gradually drop.

“Food inflation is not caused by the stock exchange, we must get logistics right and address multiple taxation.

“The transportation system is very crucial in determining the price of food items in Nigeria,” he said.

Related Articles