Agricultural stakeholders have called for an urgent government intervention to resolve ongoing blockade of food and agricultural supplies to the South by northern trade unions last weekend.
Observers say the idea was not well thought out and will impact negatively on availability and prices of food items in the South regions, especially in a big city like Lagos and adjoining states. Reacting to the development, the National President of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Kabiru Ibrahim, said it is a bad development that should be nipped in the bud. Ibrahim said, ‘’the traders should know that the South is their market. Once you stop people from delivering their goods, the goods will be lost and that’s not good for business.
If on the other hand things that come from the South to the North are stopped, what happens?’’ He said it is the poor people who are not responsible for leadership and security that will suffer, adding that, “the northerners and southerners all suffer the same fate when there’s failure in security management.” Ibrahim called for a speedy resolution of the issues at stake.
Also commenting, the President of Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria (FACAN), Dr. Victor Iyama, said the action of northern trade unions is, to say the least, irrational and amounts to ‘’cutting your nose to spite your face.’’ Iyama lamented that it is the owners of the foods that will bear the brunt of this action, noting that, ‘’most of the people bringing in the foods are not the farmers. They are traders who buy them to resell. Are they going to allow their money to go to waste? Before blocking the goods, the farmers should have been paid.’’ The FACAN president, who said the action is going to generate a spiral effect, noted that it will not last as it is not a well thought out move.
Also reacting to the issue, the Vice President of Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG), Emmanuel Ijewere, pointed out that the stoppage of food supply to the South will have a negative impact on food availability and prices.
Ijewere, who said this might lead to people hoarding available foodstuff and increasing prices thereby putting pressure on the already weak purchasing power of most consumers, however, advised against panicking.
He said, ‘’it’s bound to lead to increase in food prices. People, from their wages, will have to spend more to buy the same quantity of foods their families need.’’
According to him, ‘’this will not go on for a long time because the producers in the North will suffer the loss of their income invested in farm production. Most of these produce don’t have long shelf life so they will perish.’’
He called for efforts to urgently resolve the situation. [The Sun]