James Emejo in Abuja
Worried by the rising price of food items in the country, and concerns over the possibility of famine as a result of food shortage, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has said government may likely open up the grain reserve within the next two weeks if food prices continue to soar.
But that decision has reportedly angered local farmers who appeared to be profiting from the rise in food prices because it also helps to sell their produce at higher prices.
According to Ogbeh, the farmers have expressed their resentment with government over plans to cut food prices, accusing it (government) of sabotaging their business as this would be the first time they would be making high profit from farming.
The Minister, however, stressed the need for synergy and reasonable balance between the farmers profit and city dwellers survival.
The country’s inflation rate increased for the 12th time in a row in January partly due to increases in price of food items.
Speaking to journalists in Abuja, he said food prices appeared to be dropping in the market.
He said the price of maize, Sorghum and millet are beginning to drop, noting that while maize has dropped from N180,000 per ton to N140,000, farmers are willing to sell at N135,000 in Kaduna.
The federal government, he added, had also began to move Soya Beans through rail coaches from Kastina to Lagos adding that the railway is more cheaper, with no problem of taxes or break down of trucks on the road.
He allayed fears about food shortage in the country as there are some food stored in the Silos while a new round of grains are being harvested in about four states.
Ogbeh explained that the stocks from the previous harvest are still with the millers warehouses adding that wheat are also being harvested.
The Minister added: “With the quantity of food that despite the quantities of food that West African countries has carried from Nigeria, there are still a lot in the store unfortunately the prices are still high.”
He also said there is a severe problem with maize, as it is being attacked by the Armyworm diseases, spreading across Africa and destroying farms in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania and Angola.
Furthermore, he said that the ministry had been trying to deal with the disease, adding that the usual spraying of insecticide cannot kill the disease.