The Federal Government says it is considering fixing a guaranteed minimum price for agricultural produce to reduce the fluctuating and high cost of commodities.
Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between tractor companies and Agriculture Mechanisation Company.
Ogbeh frowned at the act and idea of people buying cheap grains during harvest, store and sell them at exorbitant prices.
The minister said that the act was the reason for the high cost of food, especially grains.
‘‘For the guaranteed minimum price, we are certainly going to work on it.
‘‘The idea of very rich men and women buying up grains cheaply when the harvest is fresh and store in their warehouses and sell at a high price later is alarming.
‘‘It is business but we will like to introduce some morality into it so the farmer doesn’t lose on his or her investment and can continue doing business.
‘‘That is something we are considering and something we will put in place very shortly.
‘‘We will advise farmers not to get very greedy especially with grains like rice.
‘‘If they raise the price of paddy too high and the millers buy at that price, it then means that the rice will hit the market so high that it is more expensive than foreign rice,’’ he said.
Ogbeh commended the Nigerian Agricultural Mechanisation and Equipment Leasing Company (NAMEL) for initiating the MoA with mechanisation service providers.
According to him, the government cannot manage tractors but it can be efficiently managed by the private sector.
The Chief Executive of NAMEL, Dr. Ahmed Adekunle, said the company’s goal includes the deployment of 10,000 units of tractors and over 60,000 other machineries across 774 local government areas in the country.
Adekunle said the mechanisation project would bridge the gaps between stakeholders in ensuring delivery of sustainable mechanisation services to commercial, medium and smallholder farmers in the country.
Mr. Bitrus Yakubu, the National President of the Tractors Owners and Operators Association of Nigeria (TOOAN), said that the introduction of the modern technologies would help to increase yields.
Yakubu listed some of the challenges facing large-scale farmers and tractor operators to include the high cost of equipment and duty rate on equipment, high-interest rates and unregulated farm produce prices, among others.
Alhaji Danladi Garba, the National President of the Tractors Owners and Hiring Facilities Association of Nigeria (TOHFAN), said the agreement was the cheapest the association had involved in.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the agreement is a private sector-driven agreement to make mechanisation services available to farmers through the tractor service companies (TOOAN and TOHFAN).