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Muhammadu Buhari Nigeria to tap strategic wheat reserves to rein in food prices

"President Buhari has ordered the release of 10,000 tons of grain from the National Strategic Grains Reserve to check food price increases," his office said in a tweet on Sunday.

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A farmer displays collected wheat grains in Houla, South Lebanon August 1, 2015. play A farmer displays collected wheat grains in Houla, South Lebanon August 1, 2015. (REUTERS/Aziz Taher)

Nigeria will tap its strategic grain reserves to rein in food prices, President Muhammadu Buhari said, as Africa's biggest economy faces its worst economic crisis in decades fueled by a collapse in crude oil prices.

Annual inflation in the continent's top oil exporter rose to a near four-year high of 12.8 percent in March from 11.4 percent in February, driven by a rise in food prices.

"President Buhari has ordered the release of 10,000 tons of grain from the National Strategic Grains Reserve to check food price increases," his office said in a tweet on Sunday.

He ordered the agriculture ministry to assist "all able-bodied men and women" living in camps for people displaced by the jihadist Boko Haram group to return "immediately" to farming, it said.

The army has in recent months regained territory lost to the group, which has been waging a seven-year insurgency in the northeast, but most displaced people have been reluctant to return home given the volatile security situation.

A slump in oil revenue, which makes up 70 percent of Nigeria's state income, has dried up hard currency supplies needed to fund food and other vital imports.

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