- Title: TOGO: Togo sells 7,000 tonnes of cheap maize to help consumers avoid hunger
- Date: 6th June 2008
- Summary: MAN ON MOTORCYCLE BUYING MAIZE (SOUNDBITE) (Mina) TAXI DRIVER, HERVE AGOUGNON, SAYING: ''What with the cost of living, a bowl of maize is sold at 750 FCFA (about 2 US dollars) and I must confess that we can't take it anymore. The situation is very serious.''
- Embargoed: 21st June 2008 13:00
- Location: Togo
- Country: Togo
- Topics: Economic News
- Reuters ID: LVA1LUU6JUZLGXVQYQS6CPJOG0Q7
- Story Text: Togo is releasing 7,000 tonnes of maize onto the market at almost half the market rate to help consumers struggling with high prices.
Officials say the maize is being sold at 400 francs a bowl (approximately one US dollar), or 16,000 CFA francs (42 dollars) per 100 kilogram sack, which was almost half the current going rate.
Unpredictable weather patterns, rising Asian consumption, demand for land and crops for biofuels and speculation have forced up world grain prices in recent months, hurting poor African families who already spend most of their income on food.
''What with the cost of living, a bowl of maize is sold at 750 FCFA (2 US dollars) and I must confess that we can't take it anymore, the situation is very serious,'' says Herve Agougnon who drives a motorcycle taxi in Lome, Togo's capital.
Global price pressures could be exacerbated in Togo due to late rains this year, meaning many farmers have only began sowing their crops in the past week, a month later than usual. That will mean the harvest, which often starts in late June, will be late, extending the lean season when prices go up.
''The fact that a bowl of maize costs 750 FCFA does not depend on us," says Paula Gnadeva, a maize trader. "We also buy it very expensively and that is reflected in our sales price. It's linked to the high cost of living. In some places the maize cost up to 1000 FCFA (2.50 US dollars) and the people who transport it often take 3000 FCFA (7 US dollars) per bag and so the price goes high."
Even though traders refuse to take the blame, Colonel Ouro-Koura Agadaz, head of the Togolese Food Security Observatory (OSAT) says a fair amount of speculation by traders is also contributing to high prices.
''We have noticed that the demand is increasing and it's strongly influenced sometimes by speculation. Therefore, to avoid the phenomenon of speculation, we have decided, with the support of the state, to organise proximity sales,'' he said.
Agadaz could not give any overall figures for national maize consumption in Togo, a small West African nation of less than six million people.
Officials also said that to combat speculation or hoarding, purchases will be limited to one 50 or 100 kg sack per person. Some wholesalers are refusing to sell to people without proper licenses for resale.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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