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Buhari approves 30,000 maize tons, faults middlemen for food prices hike

By NewsDesk

President Muhammadu Buhari has attributed his cost of food prices across the country to activities and exploitative behaviors of corrupt middlemen and other actors in the food distribution chain.

To ease the current high cost of food prices, especially poultry production, the President said he has given approval for the release of 30,000 tons of maize from the national reserves, to animal feed producers to ease the high cost of poultry part of measures to mitigate to bring down prices of food items across the country.

The President noted that apart from approval given for release of food items from the strategic reserves, his administration has commenced talks with various food producer associations involved, particularly those of rice and other grains, and that upon cooperation, high food prices  of food as being witnessed would crash.

Through a statement released to newsmen by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, Buhari assured that ivestments in the agro-allied sector by the private sector would significantly increase domestic production of farming inputs especially fertilizer, further crash prices, create employment and ease the pressure on the country’s foreign reserves.

He added that key government agencies and policymakers with the responsibility and visibility on market activities were working assidiously on removing structural impediments to the production and free movement of agricultural products.

“While Providence has been kind to us with the rains and as such an expectation that a bumper harvest would lead to crashing of food prices and ease the burdens on the population, government’s concern is that the exploitative market behaviour by actors has significantly increased among traders in the past few years and may make any such relief a short-lived one.

“This year has indeed tested us in ways that globalization has never been tested since the turn of the century. These challenges have disrupted lives and supply chains all over the world, and Nigeria has not been spared.

“The effect has been deeply felt in the delays encountered in procurement of raw materials for local production of fertilizer (damaging standing crops before harvest) and the speculative activities by a number of rice processors who are ready to pay for paddy at any price to keep their mills running non-stop.

”But of all these problems, the most worrisome are the activities of ‘corrupt’ middlemen (with many of them discovered to be foreigners) and other food traders who serve as the link between farmers and consumers found to be systematically creating an artificial scarcity so that they can sell at higher prices.

”In dealing with these problems, the administration has, in line with its ease of doing business mantra, avoided imposing stockholding restrictions, in order not to discourage investments in modern warehousing and cold storage,” the statement said.

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