As part of efforts geared towards reducing food prices in the country, the Federal Government has revealed plans to open the nation’s food reserve .
The Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Audu Ogbeh, stated this while addressing journalists at the end of a meeting of the Federal Executive Council this week.
Ogbeh informed that the council had received the interim report of the task force committee set up last week to look at the issue of hike in food prices.
“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” he said.
To tackle the challenges, Ogbeh explained that while the federal government has considered the railway wagons as a viable alternative for transportation.
“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 taxation on transporters by local governments which delayed movement.” he added.
Speaking further on measures to address challenges of transportation, Ogbeh said the federal government would also ensure that trucks carrying food items would be labeled to enable them move smoothly on the highways without delays by the security agents.
“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”, he assured.
The minister however expressed that the federal government will be looking into the food reserves if the current high food prices continues.
“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” he noted.