The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has expressed optimism about the federal government’s plan to establish a National Commodity Board, stating that it holds the potential to bring much-needed stability to food prices in Nigeria.

Dr. Chinyere Almona, the Director-General of LCCI, noted the significance of this initiative amid the growing concern over escalating food costs, citing National Bureau of Statistics data placing Nigeria’s food inflation at a worrisome 33.9 percent as of January 15, 2024. Almona emphasized that the proposed commodity board could play a crucial role in regulating and assessing food prices continually. This, in turn, may ease the burden on consumers, enhance overall economic predictability, and contribute to the creation of a strategic food reserve, thereby stabilizing prices of essential grains and other food items.

The LCCI views the government’s commitment to implementing short-term strategies, particularly in response to subsidy removal, as positive. Additionally, deploying concessionary capital from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to support the agricultural sector, focusing on fertilizers, processing, mechanization, and other key aspects, is seen as a move that can enhance the overall productivity of the agricultural value chain.

While acknowledging the potential benefits, LCCI also highlighted concerns about the risk of market distortion through over-regulation. The Chamber emphasized the need for careful implementation to avoid discouraging private sector participation and hindering market dynamics.

Offering insights and recommendations, LCCI proposed a comprehensive approach that combines short-term interventions with medium-term strategies for sustained and effective results. Prioritizing the distribution of fertilizers and grains to farmers and households to counteract the immediate effects of subsidy removal on food prices was one of the key recommendations. Other suggestions included fostering collaboration between the ministries of agriculture and water resources to enhance farmland irrigation, expediting the establishment of the National Commodity Board, and actively engaging the youth in agriculture.

The LCCI stressed the importance of involving the private sector, including farmers and other stakeholders, in decision-making and implementation processes to ensure inclusivity and effectiveness in addressing the critical issue of rising food costs.

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