The Nigerian Government says it is considering holding a public debate in order to establish commodity pricing board by 2017.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, disclosed this at a press conference on the sideline of the 11th African Economic Conference in Abuja on Monday.
Ogbeh, who expressed regret that commodity pricing boards which were established few years ago were no longer functional, said the public debate would help to tackle gaps experienced by the past boards.
He explained that a minimum guaranteed price for crops was necessary to ensure balance for consumers.
“Commodity boards were set up before but somehow, they did not work.
“The debate now is that, do we go back to the commodity boards or not, but we will arrive at something soon.
“We may have to hold a public hearing on this matter. There are those who said that there were abuses.
“Some people were of the view that farmers were cheated, while others said the system worked well because they guaranteed quality control, educated farmers on what to do.
“The views are very strong on either side, we intend to hold a public debate quickly, analyse them what we have and see what is best.
“Give us a little time, maybe, early next year, we will find a solution to that. We have a duty to protect the Nigerian consumers,’’ he said.
On the huge grain exportation from the country, Ogbeh said `we want to put it clear that there is no danger of famine in the country. ’
The minister assured citizens that the government would not allow that to happen, adding that it had put necessary measures in place to check the menace.
He listed some of the measures to include storage of grains in silos, planting during dry seasons, construction of dams and lakes for irrigation farming.
The minister said the Federal Government had also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Morocco to produce fertiliser and make it cheaper for farmers to buy.
According to him, this is the first time in our history that we are witnessing extra-ordinary purchase of grains from Nigeria into Western, Northern and Central Africa.
“We are even getting demands from as far down as Namibia. They are asking for grains in large quantities like 37 tonnes of maize.
“This is a challenge which is good because farmers have markets for their produce and they are making money the way they have never done before.
“The only problem is that the huge demand is putting pressure on our local supplies,’’ the minister said.
On the extension workers engaged in the N-Power of the Federal Government, Ogbeh said they would be deployed to various states of the federation to educate farmers.