Until prices of food and other agric produce come down appreciably, many Nigerians will not appreciate the present government’s efforts to reposition the agricultural sector, experts and agric produce distributors have said.
Also, they noted, the multiple levies being charged on the highways will never allow stable prices for agric produce.
Moving farm produce from producing states to consuming states has become a challenge to the distributors, who claimed to be paying multiple levies on the highways.
Investigation also revealed that moving animals from one state to another also faces same challenge.
Some cattle dealers who recently spoke with our reporter frowned at various levies they are charged while moving animals from the North to the South.
“Sometimes, you spend thousands of naira while moving a trailer load of cows to the South, which usually adds to the cost of transportation and in turn the price of the animals in the market,’’ one of the dealers, Malam Mohammed Isa, said.
They appealed to the relevant government agencies to check the practice, which they said has for long been eroding the country’s gains in agriculture.
Also, some yam and plantain sellers in Lagos, have decried multiple levies they were subjected to in the process of bringing in agricultural produce from other states to the city for sale.
The distributors, under the aegis of Iyanoba Commodity Distributors told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that such levies and other logistics costs were affecting the gains of government intervention in agriculture.
Mr Kabiru Iyafolu, spokesman for the distributors, bemoaned the impact of the levies, saying they were contributing to the steady rise in agricultural commodity prices.
“Like bringing plantain from Edo State to this place, one will encounter seven points where you are to pay various sums of money before you are allowed to pass.
“That is why the price of a sizeable bunch of plantain is N1,500 and above. In some areas along the road you can hardly identify the person who is asking you to pay money for conveying goods through the area.
“In most cases, receipts are not issued to you, they only wave goodbye to you. After about 20 minutes’ drive, the truck is waved down probably within the same area council for another levy,’’ Iyafolu said.
According to him, it is the same story on all the commodities that come from the hinterlands to the city.
“The situation is that the farther the source of the commodity, the more levies and the higher the cost of the item by the time it gets to Lagos,’’ Iyafolu also said.
He suggested that government should intervene to enable the people enjoy the benefits of its interventions in the agricultural sector.
Mrs Grace Ogbonna, a yam seller, said it was becoming near impossible to get vehicles to convey yam from Lafia in Nasarawa State to Lagos because of insecurity and harassment of travellers by hooligans.
Some experts have said that the ugly situation is the main reason Nigerians are not feeling the present government efforts on agriculture.
Mr Toyin Adewole, an agric economist, told our reporter on phone that the people would hardly rate the government high in agriculture sector development if the prices of foods are still high in many parts of the country.
“And how would the prices not be high when the distributors of this produce are made to cough out exorbitant and sometimes multiple levies while moving from one states to another,’’ he said.
He urged government and its relevant agencies to intervene to enable the citizens to benefit from the present administration’s effort in agricultural development.