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Tinubu Approves Duty-Free Importation Of Rice, Wheat, Beans, Others

09 July

Reported by Ayooluwa Afolabi

President Bola Tinubu has approved the duty-free importation of major food items like rice, beans, and wheat, to cushion the impact of the high food prices Nigerians have been grappling with since he assumed office last year.

According to InsideOyo, in a statement by Mr Tinubu’s spokesperson, Bayo Onanuga, the measures will be “implemented over the next 180 days.”

Mr Onanuga, quoting Agriculture Minister Abba Kyari, said President Tinubu approved a “150-Day Duty-Free Import Window for Food Commodities”, including “Maize, Husked Brown Rice, Wheat, and Cowpeas.”

Nigerians have battled high food prices since the president announced the removal of petrol subsidies and also floated the naira so the value of the Nigerian currency can be determined by market forces in 2023.

The policies led to an increase in the prices of basic food, with 50kg of rice increasing in price from about N20,000 to over N70,000 in a year.

Similarly, the rising cost of poultry products has made basic protein such as eggs unaffordable for many. An egg which was selling for N100 last year is currently sold for N200 and above, depending on its size.

The continuous increase in the prices of goods and services over the past year has made some farm owners close shops, while many farmers (both crops and livestock) have already cut down on their production quantity amidst inflationary pressure, insecurity, and extreme weather conditions ravaging rural communities.

Last year, the president declared a state of emergency on food insecurity with the hope of addressing the increase in food prices, yet, food inflation persisted.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), inflation rose to 33.95 percent in May 2024 from 22.41 percent in May last year. 

Food inflation followed a similar trend, climbing to 40.66 percent in May 2024 from 24.82 percent last year in May.

Many Nigerians called on the president to allow massive food importation to cushion the rise in food prices but others argued against it, saying it would affect the local production of such goods.

In his statement, Mr Onanuga said not only will the government now allow duty-free import for the private sector for 150 days, the federal government will “import 250,000MT of Wheat and 250,000MT of Maize. The imported food commodities in their semi-processed state will target supplies to the small-scale processors and millers across the country.”

By implication, the government is planning to import maize and wheat equivalent to approximately 2.5 million bags(100kg) of each commodity to ameliorate the shortages in the country and force down the prices in the market.

Below is Mr Onanuga’s full statement as posted on X.

‘’ The Tinubu government unveils measures to overcome high food prices.

At a press briefing today, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari, said the measures will be implemented over the next 180 days:

1. A 150-day Duty-Free Import Window for Food Commodities

a. suspension of duties, tariffs, and taxes for the importation of certain food commodities (through land and sea borders)

b. These commodities include Maize, Husked Brown Rice, Wheat, and Cowpeas

c. Under this arrangement, imported food commodities will be subjected to a Recommended Retail Price (RRP).’’
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