TARABA AGRIC COMMISSIONER INTERFACES WITH ASSOCIATIONS OVER HIKE IN PRICES OF FOOD STUFF
By Mary Lateef
As part of the efforts of the Taraba State government to tame the wave of soaring prices of food stuff in the State, the Honourable Commissioner, Ministry of Agriculture Prof. Engr. Oliver Nicholas Namessan, had in the early hours of yesterday, interfaced with the leadership of various food produce and traders’ associations in Taraba State.
The meeting took place in the conference Hall of the Ministry of Agriculture in Jalingo, Taraba state capital.
Briefing the visiting leadership of the associations, the Commissioner, Prof. Engr. Oliver Nicholas Namessan said the Executive Governor of Taraba State was worried on the alarming hike in prices of food stuff in the state, hence the need to meet with critical stakeholders in the agriculture industry, with the view to finding solution to the ugly situation.
The Commissioner told his guests that the Governor Agbu Kefas led administration in the state was poised to intervene in critical situations, such as the one at hand, so as to ensure that the welfare of every Taraban is served and protected.
In their separate responses, the leaders of the agric-based associations, appreciated the Honourable Commissioner for considering them worthy for deliberating on an issue of such socio-domestic magnitude.
In the interactive session, which lasted for several hours, the association leaders revealed several factors, which in their reckoning, are connected to prices hike and food insecurity in the state. Among the factors that featured prominently in their presentation included, hoarding of food stuff by middle men, insecurity in rural communities, as well as lack of government’s political will in the provision and subsidizing of agricultural inputs, such as fertilizer, tractors and others.
The farmers revealed another insidious dimension emboldening the food insecurity scare, which they said was the price disparity between food crops and cash crops.
“Nowadays, about 90% of farmers have jettisoned the farming of food crops such as Maize, Sorghum, Yams, Beans and others, because of their abysmally low prices. They prefer cash crops like Soyabeans, Benniseed, Groundnut, etc, whose prices have appreciated more in the market environment.” One of the Association leaders told the forum.
In the process of the brainstorming, the commissioner guided the contributions in the meeting to the effects that, although the challenges are numerous, but Taraba State government was concerned with short-term measures, even as some policies were being put in place by the administration to address the challenges in the agriculture sector in a holistic manner.
In his contribution, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Sale Papali, advised that the associations leaders should meet with their members at various levels with the view to discouraging them from hoarding of foodstuffs and other attitudes that are creating increase in prices of foodstuff and food insecurity in the state.
Speaking with journalists soon after the meeting, Prof. Oliver Namessan said all the ideas and views that were harnessed in the interface, as well as the decisions reached, would be forwarded to the Executive Governor, Dr Agbu Kefas for necessary action. He also assured that the government of the day has the capacity and the political will to resolve the challenges that the association members had raised in the midterm and long-term projections.
Some of the associations that featured in the meeting included, Amana Farmers and Agric Supplies Association, Fruits Association, Gwari Traders Association, among others.
All departmental heads of the ministry were present at the meeting