BENIN – Benin has announced a ban on the export of key food crops until further notice in response to soaring cereal prices and growing tensions in domestic supply chains.

The decision, disclosed in a recent press release from the Council of Ministers on May 8, comes as a measure to ensure adequate supplies for consumers at reasonable costs within the country.

Corn, rice, millet, cowpea, tubers, and their derivatives, including flour like gari, are among the commodities affected by the export prohibition.

The move aims to address the significant price hike witnessed in recent months, with the average price of corn surging by 57% since January, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Demography.

Government authorities have attributed the price surge partly to the inclination of producers and traders to prioritize foreign demand over domestic needs.

Gaston Dossouhoui, Minister of Agriculture, emphasized the strain caused by the substantial demand for Beninese maize in neighbouring Nigeria’s poultry industry.

“The significant poultry production in Nigeria cannot do without Beninese maize. With all these pressures, there is a problem between supply and demand,” the official said.

While acknowledging the principles of market liberalism and the free movement of goods, officials underscored the adverse impact of such practices on local consumers.

Furthermore, the decision to ban imports of frozen chickens by the end of 2024 has incentivized local breeders to bolster strategic reserves, exacerbating the supply-demand imbalance.

Despite the export ban, Benin remains optimistic about its corn production outlook for the 2024/2025 campaign.

Projections from the Directorate of Agricultural Statistics (DSA) indicate an expected yield of 2.5 million tonnes, representing a 25% increase over the previous year’s harvest.

This follows the government’s move to allocate 24.4 billion CFA francs (US$39.7 million) to offer subsidized fertilizer to farmers in a bid to boost production during the 2024/2025 agricultural campaign.

Under the subsidy program, the sale price of the 50 kg bag of NPK should be set at 17,000 CFA francs (US$27.7) against a market value estimated at 24,000 CFA francs (US$39) while the price of urea will be set at 15,000 CFA francs (US$24.4).

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