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Why grain prices rose again, days after falling in Saminaka market

Early last week, there were reports of a crash in grain prices in some of the grain markets, especially in the northern part of the…

Early last week, there were reports of a crash in grain prices in some of the grain markets, especially in the northern part of the country. Many attributed this development to the release of grains into the markets by farmers, who feared that prices might crash following rumour making the round that the grains hoarded in many silos could be released to the markets. 

The rumour indeed crashed the prices of food items in the market by about 20 per cent.

However, some grain dealers in the Saminaka grain markets in Plateau State said the situation had changed again, with prices of the commodities going up.

Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that the prices of the commodities as at the time of this report are: maize – N52,000; rice – N110,000; soya beans – N59,000; sorghum – N48,000; millet – N55,000 and white beans – N85,000.

Auwalu Musa, a farmer in the area said, “I am not surprised that prices of grains are going up again despite falling last week because farmers are not bringing the commodities to the market again. Last week, the prices went down because the farmers were afraid of losing their capitals when there were reports that government and other stakeholders would release grains.

“They have stopped bringing it. They are only bringing it little by little. Added to that, even when the prices went down, rich people were still buying to hoard. Now that the farmers are not bringing it, the commodities are scarce in the markets,” Musa said.

Stakeholders in the agricultural sector believe that given the intensity of banditry in grain-producing states like Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Kaduna, Plateau, Benue and Niger, there is a high probability of scarcity in the country even before next year’s farming season, which is also part of the cost of the grains in Saminaka and other grain markets.

States in the North West agricultural belt are dominantly responsible for the cultivation of maize, rice, millet, sorghum and wheat, but a lot of factors are dashing the hope of achieving annual targets.

The Saminaka grain market, one of the largest in Nigeria, always witnesses buyers and sellers within and outside Nigeria, who converge to do business every Wednesday.

In every market day, a good number of vehicles, including trailers, carry hundreds of tonnes of grain to different parts of the country and neighbouring countries from the Saminaka grain market.

Dealers and buyers who spoke with Daily Trust on Sunday expressed concern that this is happening during dry season when grains are expected to be both available and affordable.

Regular business activities are taking a negative turn as traders in the market said the prices of commodities skyrocketed at a time it was expected to go down.

Stakeholders in the market attributed the development in the market to hoarding of the communities by rich people and the number of buyers from other northern states ravaged by crisis.

Manu Isa Idris, the chairman of Saminaka Grain Market said, “There is fear that the prices of grains will skyrocket like last year. This season, many believe that the prices of grains are likely to shoot up. Because of that, people, especially those with money, bought them in large quantities and stored to gain additional profit in the future. They hoard the commodities so that at the beginning of the farming season they would release it to sell.

“Additionally, insecurity as a result of banditry across agrarian communities in the North means that harvest last year was significantly low, with farm inputs like fertiliser and other insecticides also beyond the reach of smallholder farmers, complicating the production process.”

Maiwada Sani, another grain dealer in the market, expressed worry over the consistent rise in prices of grains in the market.

“People really suffered last year. So a lot of them who were never engaged in the grain business now hoard the commodities. They bought the grains and put them in these stores you are seeing until the prices go up to a certain amount.

“Aside the last year experience, people from the far North where insecurity is rife and could not cultivate their farms, come down to this market to buy. There are instances where buyers come and leave empty-handed due to the scarcity and hike in the prices of the product in the market,” Sani said.

Dankaka Yakubu, a grain buyer in the market, told Daily Trust on Sunday that, “You can hardly get whatever you intend to buy because the price is increasing day by day. You just have to buy the little you can because rich people have already bought the grains and hoarded in stores.” 

Also, Muhammad Abubakar, another grain buyer said, “We sometimes come and leave empty-handed because of the hike in the prices of the grain. Before, you could come with a little amount of money and buy a lot of paddy rice, but now, it is not possible. This is affecting our business.”


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