President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed the concern of his administration in the sudden hike of food prices in the country.
The Nigerian President in a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, in Abuja on Wednesday 2nd September, regretted that the increase in prices of food came at a time when the economy was already mired in a slowdown occasioned by the global coronavirus pandemic.
Buhari assured Nigerians that the situation was transient as his administration had already begun looking and putting in place measures to better the situation.
The statement reads:
“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 the 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 President has just approved the release of food items from the strategic reserves, including 30,000 tons of maize to animal feeds producers to ease the high cost of poultry production.” The statement reads in part.