A new twist has emerged behind skyrocketing food prices apart from COVID-19 and insecurity following Federal Government’s admission that foreign exchange (FX) volatility and invasion by foreigners buying out food stuff were responsible.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammad Sambo Nanono, who made this revelation in an in terview in Abuja, noted that the nefarious activities had been going on for a while, but that government is handicapped and cannot do much because African Continental Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement has commenced, which core objective is free movement of goods and services. “Recently, you can see certain rise in the prices of foods; why?
The reason for that is because of the naira crash at the foreign exchange inter market. At the moment, dollar is selling for over N500 to one dollar.
So, for our French colony counterparts, they found it cheaper to come and buy our naira with dollar, our goods, including foodstuffs are being shipped out on a daily basis.
“This is currently why the prices of foodstuffs in Nigeria have gone up and you can’t stop that under the AfCFTA agreement, No? Because there is free movement. That is exactly the cause of the problem now.”
Speaking further, Nanono admitted that price of rice in the market was now coming down following the emergence of dry season rice, saying Nigerians should be ready to get local rice at cheaper prices in the market.
He said: “If you look carefully now, the price of rice has started coming down gradually.
The reason for this is that dry season rice is coming on board and so, if you take the cost of paddy rice per bag is about N14,000 to N15,000 as against N20,000 to N25,000. I’m talking about the price of rice as at today in Kano market in Kano State, which is the barometer for measuring most of these agricultural commodities.
So, it is coming down. On the issue of hoarding of food like grains, the agric minister said: “And I understand as at last week, all these French countries have virtually wiped out the maize in the entire Baru market, which is the largest grains market in the entire Africa.
But by yesterday, the market was full of grains; nobody is even buying it, so we anticipated that during the raining season the prices will gradually come down for rice. “And also, there are some elements of hoarding.
Quite a number of people with a lot of money, especially this portfolio merchants, venturing in rice fraud by stockpiling them in their warehouses.
Now, they realise that it is not giving them huge margins because some of them decided to buy these rice and store.
“That is just a matter of time, you can only hoard to certain level. So, the issue now is for we (government) and the people to decide on how to boost agricultural production to counter this. That is the challenge we are tackling now.”