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April 17, 2024

LCCI  Recommends More Direct, Targeted Interventions Focused on Agricultural Mechanisation, Creation of Agro-industrial Hubs

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has urged that  more direct and targeted interventions should be focused on agricultural mechanization, the adoption of lower import duty exchange rates used for importing agricultural input, and the establishment of more agro-industrial hubs across the country.

LCCI also expressed grave concern about the persistent rise in inflationary pressures in the Nigerian economy, describing it as “disturbing to the business community.”

In a statement issued yesterday by the Director-General of LCCI, Dr. Chinyere Almona, he stated that the recent data released by NBS indicated a worrying trend as the headline inflation rate reached 31.70 percent in February 2024, which was a significant increase from the previous month’s rate of 29.90 percent.

He said, “The seemingly ineffective interventions by the government in curbing the rising trend of headline inflation are disturbing to the business community.

“The unabated inflationary pressures have continued to distort the workings of the economy and make business and investment planning a huge challenge.

“The inflationary surge, particularly in food prices, poses a significant challenge to the economic well-being of Nigerians. In February 2024, food inflation soared to 37.92 percent year-on-year, driven notably by increases in prices of essential commodities such as bread, cereals, potatoes, yam, fish, oil, meat, fruits, coffee, tea, and cocoa.

“Such inflationary pressures exacerbate the already precarious living conditions for millions of Nigerians, amplifying social and economic vulnerabilities.”

The LCCI, however, commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for giving access to fertilizers across the country through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to reduce the burden of high fertilizer costs on farmers.

“More direct and targeted interventions should be focused on agricultural mechanization, the adoption of lower import duty exchange rates used for importing agricultural input, and the establishment of more agro-industrial hubs across the country,” LCCI said.

The LCCI also recommended strategies that could address the rising inflationary trend and foster economic stability, including the prioritization of “smallholder farmers and vulnerable groups, including women and youth, for targeted assistance.”

It stated, “There should be strong collaboration between the CBN, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, State Ministries of Agriculture, agricultural extension services, research institutions, and farmer cooperatives.

“The government should allocate resources for agricultural extension services to provide technical assistance and training to farmers through their cooperatives on optimal fertilizer application techniques and to promote the adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices to enhance resilience to environmental challenges.

“Promote the integration of fertilizer distribution with other agricultural value chain interventions, such as improved seeds, irrigation, and post-harvest management.

“Support further expansion of local fertilizer production capacity to reduce dependency on imports and enhance long-term sustainability.

“Utilize information and communication technologies (ICTs) to disseminate agricultural advisory services, market information, and weather forecasts to farmers.”

It further recommended that the government should “empower farmer cooperatives and associations to play a central role in the distribution and management of subsidized inputs and access to finance.”

According to the LCCI, “urgent measures are needed to improve transportation infrastructure, including road networks, to reduce the cost of transportation and mitigate inflationary pressures across various sectors of the economy.”

It noted that “efforts should be intensified to strengthen agricultural value chains, including the establishment of more storage facilities and the promotion of agro-processing industries to reduce post-harvest losses and enhance food security.”

The chamber stressed that it was optimistic that inflationary pressures might soon begin to abate and other economic variables could begin to record positive indicators if the government would harmonize its fiscal and monetary instruments to tackle the cost of agricultural production, enhance food processing, and sustain the fight against insecurity.

“By implementing targeted interventions and fostering a conducive policy environment, Nigeria can overcome the current inflationary challenges and chart a path towards inclusive growth and prosperity for all,” it said.

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