By Vincent A. Yusuf (Abuja) Ibrahim M. Giginyu (Kano), Magaji I. Hunkuyi (Jalingo), Mohammed I. Yaba, Abubakar Sadiq Mohd (Kaduna), Abubakar Akote (Minna) & Hope A. Emmanuel (Makurdi)
Days after Nigerians woke up to an unusual increase in food commodity prices, reports show that the prices have now collapsed across many major markets in the country.
The announcement by the Central Bank of Nigeria to redesign the major denominations of the country’s currency, the naira, triggered a rush for grains by people with large amounts of cash.
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The prices of maize, rice, soybeans, millet and others across the different grains markets hit the roof, creating panic in the country.
Our correspondents across the states yesterday, however, reported that prices are now coming down, easing the tension in the value chain industries. In Kano State, our correspondent said the prices of grains in Dawanau International Grains Market were reported as going down.
Daily Trust gathered in the market that a 100kg bag of maize that was sold at N26,000 last Friday is now selling at N21,000, while a 100kg bag of millet that was sold last week at N27,000 is now N23,000 and the price of a 100kg bag of soybeans that skyrocketed to N37,000 has dropped to N31,000.
The price of a 100kg bag of sorghum that was N26,000, is now selling at N21,000.
A grains merchant in the market, Alhaji Danliti Abubakar Gama, told our correspondent that though they were optimistic that the prices would surely crash, but it was not as early as it happened.
He explained that within days after the federal government moved to redesign the naira, the market recorded a sharp increase in commodity prices of about 45% which he described as alarming.
He could not, however, explain the sudden crash in the price of the commodities now, noting that they are currently monitoring the trend to avoid losses.
Another merchant in the market, Alhaji Ibraheem Garba, attributed the crash in the prices of commodities to what is currently happening to the naira-to-dollar exchange rate.
He said ever since the decline in the exchange rate, prices of commodities in the market began to crash.
In Taraba, findings showed that prices of grains dropped more in Maihula, Jatau and Kungana grains markets.
The two markets are located in Bali LGA, about 250km from Jalingo, Taraba State capital, and is a major centre for farm produce merchants.
Our correspondent gathered that a 100kg bag of maize which was sold at N20,000 and N21,000 last week, is now sold at between N14,000 and N15,000 at Maihula, Kungana and Jatau grains markets.
Similarly, a 100kg bag of paddy rice which was sold at N20,000 has now dropped to N18,000 and a 100kg bag of soybeans that sold last week at N30,000 has now crashed to N20,000 and N21,000.
At Mutumbiyu, Tella and Iware markets, located not far from Jalingo, the price is higher than what is obtained in Maihula.
A 100kg bag of maize came down to N16,000 and N17,000 from N20,000 in Mutumbiyu market.
Likewise, a 100kg bag of paddy rice is now sold at N17,000 as against N20,000 and N21,000 which was the price last week.
Also, a 100kg bag of dried cassava which sold at N12,000, has now crashed to N6,000 and N7,000 at Mutumbiyu market.
Traders interviewed, however, attributed the crash of grain prices to the number of grain merchants coming to purchase farm produce in the area.
Awwal Musa, a trader at Mutumbiyu grains market, told Daily Trust that within a few days, many merchants have trooped to the market and made bulk purchases of farm produce thereby forcing prices to go up.
Awwal said, however, that only a few merchants are now coming to purchase grains in the markets across the state. In Kaduna State, a similar situation is reported in the last few days with a bag of maize, which was sold at N23,000 last week now sold at N19,000 in markets across the state.
Daily Trust reports that grain sellers at the Tudun Saibu Market of Soba LGA of Kaduna, and Monday market also in Kaduna, attribute the crash in prices to low patronage and possibly a fall in the dollar to naira rate.
Our correspondent, who visited the Tudun Saibu Market, gathered that a bag of local rice is also sold at N19,000 as against N21,000 last week while soybeans, which sold at N35,000 last Monday, is now sold at N29,000.
Mallam Sa’idu Aminu Soba, a grains dealer in the market, attributed the sudden fall in prices to lack of patronage and possibly the crash of the dollar rate to the naira.
“Last Thursday, bags of maize and local rice were sold each at N21,000 each while soybeans was sold at N35,000 per bag. Today, the price of maize and local rice is N19,000 and soybeans N29,000,” he said.
At the Kaduna Monday market, our correspondent gathered that the price of maize dropped from N23,000 to N19,000 while that of millet remained at N30,000.
“It’s true that the prices of grains are falling and maize in particular dropped from N23,000 per bag last week to N19,000 today. But millet remains at N30,000 per bag ,” said Zakari Yau, a grains dealer at the market.
Similarly, a survey of some markets in Niger State revealed that, a bag of maize goes for N22, 000 as against N24,000 while those of millet and sorghum are sold for N26,000 and N24,000 respectively.
Customers, however, complained of scarcity of millet and guinea corn in Niger markets.
Daily Trust also gathered that a bag of beans was sold at the cost of N32,000 while a bag of milled local rice was between N45,000 and N48,000.
Some traders and customers spoken to told our customers that the price of rice dropped this week from N51,000 despite the rise in demand.
However, the price of grains is skyrocketing in both local and urban markets in Benue and Nasarawa states.
A check by our correspondent in Benue showed that top on the list of price hike in the state are rice, maize and sorghum.
Benue and Nasarawa are famous in production of tuber crops.
As at Monday afternoon, a bag of locally milled rice sold at Wadata market for N34,000 as against a few days ago when it went for N32,000 per 50kg bag.
Also, the price of paddy rice went up to N40,000 per 100kg bag.
The price of maize snowballed to N40,000 per 100kg bag as against N30,000 it was sold last week while sorghum now goes for N35,000 at some markets at the outskirts of the state capital, Makurdi.
However, the price of millet remains at N36,000, while sesame still goes for N90,000 and soybean at between N50,000 and N55,000.
A trader, Terkimbi Sandra, said the prices of grains have not crashed but were rather going up by the hours in the state.
A similar situation is reported in Nasarawa State, where price of maize and paddy rice rose from N25,000 and N28,000 to N29,000 and N32, 000 respectively.
Sesame remained strong at N100,000 per 100kg bag.
However, observers said with the prices going down in major markets in many states, other markets are likely to respond.