As 19.4 million Nigerians face acute food shortage as well as sharp increase in prices, authorities have prohibited foreigners or their agents from purchasing agricultural commodities at farm gates across the country.
The decision to ban farmers from direct sale of products to foreigners was taken by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to starve the impending doom in food production chain.
Before the decision, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) had warned that Nigeria would face acute food and nutrition insecurity between June and August 2022.
Mr Jasper Mwesigwa, Food Security Analyst, FAO, made the warning on March 11, 2022 in Abuja at the Nigeria Cadre Harmonise-Acute Food and Nutrition Insecurity Analysis programme.
He said that 21 out of the 36 Nigerians states and Abuja were facing food crisis presently and called for a holistic approach towards national food systems transformation.
The All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) on March 12, 2022 applauded the ban on direct purchase of farm produce by foreign nationals.
Mr Muhammed Magaji, the National Secretary of AFAN, stated on Saturday that the action was proactive to boost food security, protect farmers and enhance agricultural activities.
Farmers, he said, were also seeking an intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bank of Agriculture in providing harvest loans.
“This will enable farmers to harvest their crops without being compelled to sell to foreigners at ridiculously low prices because of scarcity of funds at the time of harvest.’’
According to Magaji, the desire for harvest loans is to protect farmers from being short-charged and to compel foreign nationals to go through licensed local agents to conduct business.
He called on AFAN members to comply with the government’s directive by not selling their produce directly to foreign nationals and their agents.
Nigeria’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Niyi Adebayo, had on Thursday announced the ban as one of the outcomes of the Council meeting, presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
He said FEC’s approval was necessitated by the need for government to establish an appropriate mechanism that would protect local farmers in terms of achieving the right prices for their goods and commodities.
Adebayo added that the approval was also meant to ensure that the farmers have the appropriate incentives and the needed encouragement to guarantee their continued participation in the farming business.
“I presented two memos to the Federal Executive Council. One of the memos was the promotion of agribusiness in Nigeria through right farm gate pricing and ban on foreigners or their representatives from purchasing agricultural commodities at the farm gates.
“As you are all aware, this memo was necessitated by the need for government to establish an appropriate mechanism that would not only protect our farmers in terms of achieving the right prices for their goods and commodities, but also ensure that they have the appropriate incentives and the needed encouragement to guarantee their continued participation in the farming business.
“Over the years, foreigners have been going to the farm gates and buy produce from the farmers at low prices, thus de-incentivising the farmers from continuing with their trade.’’
He said that only licensed local buying agents who are registered with the relevant national commodity associations would be able to buy goods directly from the farmers and sell to the foreigners.