Stakeholders in the agricultural sector have expressed concerns over the high cost of doing business in the country, noting that the harsh operating environment is making it difficult for stakeholders and farmers to break even.
The stakeholders at the 2023 agro fair and symposium tagged, “Food Security and Nation Development,” said that the federal government must think outside the box in its bid to rescue the food sector.
Speaking on the sidelines of the symposium, the Sales Rep/Technical Officer, Premier Standard, Mr. Shodele Babatunde, said that his company is a major importer of catfish feeds into the country and is being challenged by the high rate of custom duty and unavailability of foreign exchange.
Babatunde, therefore, called on the federal government to intervene in its efforts to achieve sustainable agriculture development.
He said: “The high rate of custom duty is killing the business, so without government intervention it will be very difficult for us to have sustainable agriculture development in Nigeria. Most of our raw materials are imported, so imported feeds, high dollar rates, high duty payment definitely, it will be tough for business operators.”
He added that due to the high cost of doing business and insecurity in the North-east, locally made feeds are becoming more expensive than imported feeds, adding that operators in the fish industry are currently being challenged by the unavailability of fish meal which is a major ingredient for production of catfish.
Babatunde said: “Presently, we do not have any source of protein produced in Nigeria for commercial purposes. Fish meal, which is a major ingredient for production of cat fish feed, is being imported.
‘There is no company producing fish meal in the country at commercial volume for millers to use in Nigeria. We need government’s parastatals to brainstorm with us on the way forward to enhance food production in Nigeria.”
Also speaking, the Chairman Export Group of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Sada Ladan-Baki, explained that in spite of Nigeria’s rich potentials in non-oil exportable items, the country’s export performance could best be described as sub-optimal.
Ladan-Baki said that Nigeria relied on $10 billion of imports to meet its food and agricultural production shortfalls (mostly wheat, rice, poultry, fish, food services, and consumer-oriented foods) with Europe, Asia, the United States, South America, and South Africa being the major sources of these agricultural imports.
On his part, the Managing Director of Cardville Limited, Mr. Bola Abolade, commended the federal government’s effort in addressing food insecurity, saying that Nigeria is already on the path of agricultural development as Nigeria is almost self-sufficient in rice production.
He, however, called on the present administration not to only declare food emergency, but implement formidable policies that would transform the nation’s agricultural sector.