Audu Ogbeh, Ministter of Agriculture and Rural Development says the Federal Government will open grain reserves across the country to check the high price of food items in the markets.
The Minister who said this while speaking with journalists in Abuja on Friday in Abuja, promised that the move would become a reality within two weeks.
He said that though prices of food items like maize and sorghum were gradually coming down, the reserves would be opened if prices of other agricultural produce did not come down.
“In another week or two, if we find out that the prices are not coming down,we will open the reserves. Already the price of maize is falling and even prices of sorghum and millet are beginning to drop.
“From N180, 000 per tonne, maize dropped to N145, 000 and in Kaduna, they are willing to sell at N135, 000 per tonne,’’ he said.
The minister said that farmers had started harvesting rice and wheat in at least, four states to make food available for the people.
‘‘There is no danger of food shortage. ‘’With the quantity of food that some West Africans have carried from here this year, we still have a lot in the stores. The prices are too high, the farmers are angry that we want to reduce prices.
‘‘They say we are trying to spoil their businesses; that this is the first time that they are making good money but we are trying to persuade them that there must be synergy.’’ he said.
The minister said transportation of food from one state to another as well as export had commenced to make food available in all the states.
‘’We are moving about 8,000 tonnes of soya-beans from Katsina to Lagos because we are exporting them. We are going to use the railway and couches.
The Minister of Transportation,Chibuike Amechi, is bringing in some couches that will help to evacuate these produce.’’
On fertiliser, Ogbe said the Federal Government would partner with the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) to check fertiliser diversion and racketeering in the country.
Ogbeh said that Nigeria had taken delivery of the first batch of phosphate fertiliser from Morocco, following the agreement between President Muhammadu Buhari and King Mohammed VI of Morocco.
According to him, the blending of the fertiliser has commenced in Kaduna state, adding that Federal Government will keep the price at below N6,000 per bag.
“We brought in Phosphate from Morocco after the agreement between the President and the King of Morocco. Morocco is also bringing in Potash; 11 blending companies will start work in the first phase and in the next phase, others will join.
“We are keeping the price of fertiliser at below N6, 000 per bag. We are hoping that middle men do not get in between and start hoarding or smuggling the fertiliser across the border to neighbouring countries.
“We are trying to get hold of the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) to help us.
The minister, however, expressed concern over sharp practices encountered in the fertiliser value chain.
“The degree of rottenness in our society is not limited to government. We are a very difficult people.’’