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FG’ll open national reserve to reduce food prices

The Federal Government is considering opening the nation’s food reserve as part of measures aimed at reducing food prices in the country.

The Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Chief Audu Ogbeh, disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of a meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

He was joined by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola; and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelemah.

Ogbeh said the council received the interim report of a committee set up last week to look at the issue of hike in food prices.

While saying the committee identified the causes of increase in food prices, the minister noted that the good thing was that “there is no real shortage of food.”

He said the problem was that the prices of food were a bit too high and Nigerians were groaning under the pain.

As part of efforts to reduce prices, he said government would look into the unnecessary delay being experienced by truck drivers on the nation’s highways in the hands of security agents.

The minister said, “One of the things we found out is that the cost of transportation is becoming extremely high especially because most of our transportation is by road and diesel prices have gone up while trucks are finding it difficult to move from place to place at the old prices.

“So, we considered the following alternatives: using railway wagons along the current railway network. As we did before when we moved cattle from the North-West to Lagos, we brought down the cost and avoided the multiple taxations on transporters by local governments which delayed movement.

“We have decided to work with the state governments and the police to reduce delays.

“We are going to adopt what they have in Cote d’Ivoire. Trucks carrying foods are given labels. In fact, in Cote d’Ivoire, they cannot be stopped for more than 10 minutes anywhere.

“Even if something serious happens, the security agencies will follow them to their destinations and come back to investigate whatever has happened.

“Finally, we shall be looking into our reserves if in the next few days the situation persists, to see what we can bring out to lower the prices because another bumper harvest will be coming up again at the end of March.

“There is really no starvation in the land. The other factor is what you know already. There is a lot of pressure on Nigerian foods from West, North and Central Africa. Our food production is very robust and we are doing pretty well.”

Fashola said the council approved the construction of the Ilorin-Omu Aran-Kabba Road, Section I, in order to complement ongoing works on the Kabba-Egbe Road to link Kwara and Kogi states.

He said the justification for the contract awarded in the sum of N21bn was in consistence with the present administration’s promise to continue to reduce travel time, ease the cost of doing business and the cost of goods and services.

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