The Federal Government on Monday announced that it had approved a ban on the direct purchase of agricultural produce from local farmers by foreign merchants.
It said the decision was taken because most foreign merchants who purchased agro-commodities at farm-gate prices in Nigeria were taking advantage of local farmers with respect to the payments made for such produce.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Abubakar Mahmood, who disclosed this while responding to questions at the 4th Women Enterprise Alliance Conference in Abuja, said the Federal Executive Council approved the ban.
He said, “On allowing foreigners to buy produce from farmers at farm-gate prices, about a month ago or two we were able to get a memo approved by the Federal Government through the Federal Executive Council on this issue.
“So no foreign merchant will come and buy at farm-gate prices. That memo has been approved. And why is this so, when they (foreign merchants) buy at the farm-gate price, the farmer gets much less than what ordinarily he or she should receive.”
On what was being done to enable farmers to return to their farms without being kidnapped, Mahmood vowed that the government would not allow insecurity to halt food production in Nigeria.
He said, “The government is doing whatever it can and is at the top of the issue. I can assure you that the government will not allow insecurity to stop our food production.
“And as a result of that our farmers are given some kind of protection using the agro-rangers, but honestly the root of the matter is to collaborate and find ways to solve the problem, not just temporarily.
“As you can see, food is being produced across the country and we will make sure it does not stop.”
Outlining some of the states where the government had approved the establishment of Special Agricultural Processing Zones, Mahmood said they include Kaduna, Kano, Ogun, Nasarawa and four others.
He, however, noted that the SAPZs would be established in other states, stressing that the initiative would help process agricultural products suitable for export.
The Founder, of WENA, Aisha Babangida, said there was a need for a paradigm shift in agriculture and the development of initiatives to enhance food security in Nigeria.
“The objective of this conference is to foster sustainable growth in the agricultural sector through innovation and technology,” she stated.