The Federal Government says it has banned foreigners from buying agricultural commodities and produce directly from Nigerian farmers.
The ban which was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, is to ensure that the farmers are no longer cheated in the purchase of their farm produce.
The Minister of Trade and Investment, Chief Niyi Adebayo, who briefed State House correspondents on the approval, noted that foreigners will now have to go through licensed local buying agents to do business with the farmers.
Adebayo disclosed that he presented two memos on behalf of his ministry before FEC, one of which was the promotion of agribusiness in Nigeria through the right farm gate pricing, and ban on foreigners and their representatives from purchasing agricultural commodities at the farm gates.
He said the council approved the establishment of an appropriate mechanism that would not only protect the indigenous farmers in terms of achieving the right prices for their goods and commodities, but also ensure that they have the appropriate incentives and the needed encouragement to guarantee their continued participation in the farming business.
According to Adebayo, over the years, foreigners have been going to the farm gates to buy produce from the farmers at low prices, thus discouraging the farmers from continuing with their agric business.
He said: “We finally got approval from FEC today for only licensed local buying agents who must be registered by the relevant national commodity associations.
“They are the ones who will be able to buy goods directly from the farmers and sell to the foreigners.
“This way, the farmers will no longer be cheated by these foreigners who just throw money at them and are able to buy their goods.”
The Minister also said he presented another memo to FEC for the approval of Trade Policy Action Plan with the theme: “Unleashing Nigeria’s Development Potentials through Trade and Investment”.
He explained that the Action Plan which was also approved by the Council was formulated with a view to utilising trade as another means of generating revenue outside oil whose revenue is on the downward trend.
Adebayo said: “The whole idea is that because we’re not making as much money as we used to from sale of oil, and because of reduction in the money that comes from that aspect of Nigeria’s revenue generation, we want to utilize trade as a means of generating revenue for the country.
“So, the action plan aims to utilise the existing national trade policy to facilitate an effective use of international trade and investment as tools for economic growth and poverty reduction in the country.
“So, we have got approval from Council today to engage with all the ministries, departments and agencies involved in trade and revenue generation, and also the organized private sector and civil society organisations to ensure a successful implementation of the trade policy action plan.
“One of the next steps that we will be taking now that we have this approval, is to inaugurate a committee which will look into the update of the existing trade policy which was last updated in 2002.
“Also, we will be looking into coming up with an investment policy and these two policies we believe should be ready before the end of this year.”