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Osinbajo worried on jumping price of Garri, Nigeria’s leading staple food

Indications emerged towards the end of last week that the Federal Government may issue another Executive Order that will compel security agencies and states governors to take proactive steps towards ending frustrations faced by farmers in the hands of Fulani herdsmen.

Since the beginning of second quarter, there has been a steady rise in the price of Garri while other local foodstuffs keep coming down gradually.

In what looked like a new leadership style to feel the pulse of his subjects, may be; so as to situate how to tone his address today, Nigerian’s Democracy Day and the second anniversary of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration which he is serving, Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo on Friday visited Garki Model Market, Abuja to interact with traders.

On arrival to the surprise of the traders, at about 3pm, the Acting President moved straight to engage the traders who complained about high cost of food items and shops.

Business Hilights Correspondent on the entourage reports that he was shocked at the cost of Garri and was forced to encourage Nigerians to go back to farms, saying all efforts must e made to encourage farming in all states.

However, fresh angle has emerged on why the market price of Garri, Nigerian’s leading staple ‘swallow’ food had been on the rising trend in the last few months even as other domestic foodstuffs are on the downward stretch.

Outcries from almost every market woman dealing on Garri across Lagos State major markets fingered the incessant harassment of Cassava farmers in Edo and Delta States by Fulani Herdsmen.

The axis is the leading producer of the foodstuff and majority of Lagos supplies originate from both states.

They revealed that associated killings and fears have forced farmers to abandon their farms, leaving their crops especially Cassava to be ravaged by rampaging Cattles who are in their hundreds within the region and farm belt.

Before the new angle, indigenous flour manufacturers had been seen as the main cause behind the unexplainable rising cost of Garri, but further enquiries showed that the cause of the hike in price of Garri has no business with local flour producers, but panic caused by killings perpetuated by the herdsmen.

Tour of several popular foodstuff markets in Lagos including Mile 12, Oyinbgo, Iyanoba and Oshodi showed that price of the commodity has suddenly climbed to roof top in a manner that remains very hard to explain.

Currently, a paint of Garri that usually cost about N300 has jumped up to N1,100 while half of it which was sold at N150 or N200 before the end of April is now N600 along the streets and smaller markets.

Attempts to push the high cost to impacts of recession failed as all other foodstuff are experiencing gradual drop in prices.

But some of the major dealers at Ketu Mile 12 market said farmers are now farming with fears of being killed, thus creating a scenario that is discouraging more investments in Cassava farming within the belt known for its high potential in the product.

Industrial analysts say high quality cassava flour is simple unfermented cassava flour and it is better than wheat. The desire to reduce dependence on importation and conservation of foreign exchange has increased the Federal Government’s drive to source for local alternatives to partially or fully substitute imported goods. Wheat flour substitution becomes utmost priority especially with the price of wheat in the international market is becoming unbearable.

Research institutes such as International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO) has for years researched on developing processed based technology to mechanize and produce high quality cassava floor. This has led to the development and of the process technology for production of High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) suitable for partial substitution of wheat.

FIIRO has demonstrated that bread and confectioneries baked with 10% cassava flour inclusion in wheat flour compared favourably with those baked with 100% wheat flour.

It would be recalled that former President Goodluck Jonathan had driven the campaign for the use of cassava flour in producing bread which reached the height of eating bread produced with cassava flour during one of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings.

During the last Friday’s visit to Garki market, Osinbajo was accompanied by Aisha Abubakar, minister of state trade and investment, and other senior presidential aides.

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