‘How agro-allied companies can lower food prices’
To address the challenges of rising food prices across the country, more players in the agri-food system need to increase their investments in homegrown innovation and local production of raw materials, stakeholders have said.
Speaking at the sub-summit of the recently concluded NES, which had its theme as: Sustainable Food Security and Systems Response, the group managing director of Flour Mills of Nigeria, Omoboyede Olusanya stressed the need to increase local supply of raw materials to enhance food security.
He said innovation of local raw materials further drives investments in backward integration.
Olusanya said Nigeria produces about 22 million tonnes of grains whereas the country needs 60 million tonnes yearly.
He explained that FMN champions the use of local raw materials and innovation to create affordable products for Nigerians, ensuring that even as imported raw materials increase in price due to a massive gap between supply and demand, the company is able to keep prices low while maintaining quality through innovation and local supply.
Because of the cyclical nature of prices of raw materials, according to Olusanya, Flour Mills of Nigeria partakes and off-takes and innovates to try and make products as affordable as possible.
Olusanya affirmed commitment to continue investing in the country based on Nigeria’s size, growing youth population, and talent pool, all of which contribute to the country’s attractiveness.
He stated that the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) expanded the scope of the Nigerian market.
He mentioned the population size as an example of the prospects available, but also stated that Nigeria’s size and population made it an attractive market for foreign investors as well as a possible dumping ground for products.
He said in the future, the ability of companies like FMN to compete would depend on the cost side, which explains the need for local production of raw materials, stressing that there is also a need to make farming attractive for the youth.
Earlier, President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the opening ceremony of the event, identified the many development programmes and projects Nigeria is undertaking, including the renewable power project to connect 1.5 million homes. He also listed roads, bridges and rail projects that will have an impact on the economy.
He stressed that the federal government is committed to lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by the end of the decade. He also said labour-intensive jobs will be the major source of creation; before declaring the summit open.
Others who spoke at the Nigeria Economic Summit #NES27 said unless national and sub-national governments take deliberate and focused steps to transform the country, Nigeria will be left far behind not just by the world, but also by several emergent bright spots in Africa. They added that Nigerians will continue to wallow in poverty, hunger, insecurity, and division.
“We can no longer afford to dream and theorize about the right policies, projects and programmes that will prepare us for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or gaze in admiration or envy at other countries as they leave us far behind,” chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Asue Ighodalo said.