Cost-of-living crisis: Tinubu approves free importation of rice, wheat, beans, others

President Bola Tinubu has approved the duty-free importation of major food items like rice, beans and wheat, to cushion the impact of the high food prices Nigerians have been grappling with since he assumed office last year.

According to a statement by Mr Tinubu’s spokesperson, Bayo Onanuga, the measures will be “implemented over the next 180 days.”

Mr Onanuga, quoting Agriculture Minister Abba Kyari, said President Tinubu approved a “150-Day Duty-Free Import Window for Food Commodities”, including “Maize, Husked Brown Rice, Wheat and Cowpeas.”


Nigerians have battled high food prices since the president announced the removal of petrol subsidies and also floated the naira so the value of the Nigerian currency can be determined by market forces in 2023.

The policies led to an increase in the prices of basic food, with 50kg of rice increasing in price from about N20,000 to over N70,000 in a year.

Similarly, the rising cost of poultry products has made basic protein such as eggs unaffordable for many. An egg which was selling for N100 last year is currently sold for N200 and above, depending on its size.

The continuous increase in the prices of goods and services over the past year has made some farm owners close shops, while many farmers (both crops and livestock) have already cut down on their production quantity amidst inflationary pressure, insecurity and extreme weather conditions ravaging rural communities.

Last year, the president declared a state of emergency on food insecurity with the hope of addressing the increase in food prices, yet, food inflation persisted.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), inflation rose to 33.95 per cent in May 2024 from 22.41 per cent in May last year. Food inflation followed a similar trend, climbing to 40.66 per cent in May 2024 from 24.82 per cent last year in May.

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Many Nigerians called on the president to allow massive food importation to cushion the rise in food prices but others argued against it, saying it would affect the local production of such goods.

In his statement, Mr Onanuga said not only will the government now allow duty-free import for the private sector for 150 days, the federal government will “import 250,000MT of Wheat and 250,000MT of Maize. The imported food commodities in their semi-processed state will target supplies to the small-scale processors and millers across the country.”

By implication, the government is planning to import maize and wheat equivalent to approximately 2.5 million bags(100kg) of each commodity to ameliorate the shortages in the country and force down the prices in the market.

Read Mr Onanuga’s full statement as posted on X below.

The Tinubu government unveils measures to overcome high food prices.

At a press briefing today, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari, said the measures will be implemented over the next 180 days:

1. A 150-Day Duty-Free Import Window for Food Commodities

a. suspension of duties, tariffs and taxes for the importation of certain food commodities (through

land and sea borders)

b. These commodities include Maize, Husked Brown Rice, Wheat and Cowpeas

c. Under this arrangement, imported food commodities will be subjected to a Recommended Retail Price (RRP).

(I am aware that some good citizens might be concerned about the quality of the would-be imported food commodities as it relates to the trending worries around the genetic composition of food.) I am glad to reiterate that the Government’s position exemplifies standards that would not compromise the safety of the various food items for consumption.

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2. In addition to the importation by the private sector, the Federal Government will import 250,000MT of Wheat and 250,000MT of Maize. The imported food commodities in their semi-processed state will target supplies to the small-scale processors and millers across the country.

3. Engage relevant stakeholders to set a Guaranteed Minimum Price (GMP) and mop up surplus assorted food commodities to restock the National Strategic Food Reserve.

4. Continuous ramp-up production for the 2024/2025 farming cycle.

a. sustained support to smallholder farmers in the ongoing wet season farming through existing

government initiatives.

b. strengthen and accelerate Dry Season Farming across the country.

c. embark on aggressive agricultural mechanization and development to reduce drudgery, drive down the cost of production and boost productivity.

d. collaborate with Sub-National to identify irrigable lands and increase land under cultivation.

e. work closely with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation, to rehabilitate and

maintain irrigation facilities under river basin authorities across the federation.

f. development of a strategic engagement for youth and women across the federation for immediate greenhouse cultivation of horticultural crops such as tomatoes and pepper to increase production volume, stabilise prices and address food shortages.

g. fast-tracking ongoing engagements with the Nigerian Military to rapidly cultivate arable lands

under the Defence Farms Scheme, while encouraging other Para-Military establishments to secure available arable lands for cultivation.

5. The Renewed Hope National Livestock Transformation Implementation Committee will be inaugurated on Tuesday, 9th July 2024 to develop implementing policies that prioritise livestock development and ensure alignment with the National Livestock Transformation Plan.

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6. Enhancement of Nutrition Security through:

a. the promotion of the production of fortified food commodities and

b. offer necessary support to scale up the Home Garden Initiative by the Office of The First Lady

of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Over the next 14 days, in close collaboration with the Presidential Food Systems Coordinating Unit

(PFSCU) and the Economic Management Team (EMT), we will convene with the respective Agencies to finalise the implementation frameworks.

We will ensure that information is publicly available to facilitate the participation of all relevant stakeholders across the country.

The PFSCU will manage a dashboard for Mr. President, providing him with direct visibility into these interventions and ensuring accountability.

The success of the measures aforementioned is contingent on the cooperation and collaboration of all relevant MDAs and stakeholders.

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As our nation confronts a critical food security challenge, let me reiterate Mr. President’s unwavering commitment to attaining food security and ensuring that no Nigerian goes to bed hungry.

To this end, I can assure all Nigerians, that my team and I, will swiftly and diligently actualize these crucial policies to ensure food security for everyone in the country in the immediate term as we also continue our strategies for long-term interventions to address the underlying causes and ensure sustainable and resilient food systems in the country.


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Oyo Affairs is an independent news media with the main focus on Oyo state news, politics, current events, trending happenings within and around Oyo state, Nigeria

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