While speaking on Africa Independent Television’s (AIT) current affairs programme ‘Focus Nigeria’, Lai Mohammed revealed why despite the “revolution” witnessed in the agricultural sector, the cost of food items remains high.
The minister of information and culture said it was because of infrastructural deficit and export demands.
He said: “Despite the fact that the production of staples like rice, grains, yam has increased with the agriculture revolution of the government, food items are still on the high side.
“There are many reasons why the prices are still up there but principally, I think it is infrastructural deficit.
“By this, I mean what it takes to bring the produce from the farms to the farm gates and from the farm gates to the city centres and this may not improve until various road and rail projects are completed.
“The good news, however, is that from october this year, the General Electric, which has the concession for the 3,500 narrow gauge rail routes will commence work.
“The Lagos to Kano standard gauge rail project and the Lagos to Calabar rail lines which will criss-cross all the southeastern states are priority projects of the government.
“That will help in the transportation of goods and services including agricultural produce at a far cheaper fare and that will percolate to the common man.”
He also assured that the government would do all that is possible to ensure that the Lagos to Ibadan, Kano to Maiduguri and other critical roads across the country were completed.
“There is so much demand on our grains and cereals from other parts of Africa.
“You cannot stop the farmers especially with the ECOWAS protocols that allows for free movement of goods and services.
“There is also a lot of demand for our grains from other parts of the world and as a matter of fact, we got over N30 billion from agricultural export in the second quarter of this year.
“I believe that with the economy picking up and the various infrastructural development coming up, Nigeria will very soon start to feel some relief.
“Also the presidential initiative to employ 10,000 people from each state in the agricultural sector will bring succour and a lot of relief,” he said.
Trying to assure Nigerians, he said:
“Living together for 57 years as an independent country with all the ups and downs and challenges and we are going stronger in all ramification.
“The present administration is getting its priorities right and focussed on the economy, good governance, security and improving the quality of life of Nigerians.”
The minister also reiterated the position of President Muhammadu Buhari that the administration would not rest on its oars until the impact of good governance is felt by all Nigerians.