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Nigerians Groan Under Steady Rise Of Food Prices

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Nigerians have continued to grapple with the persistent increase in prices of household food items.

OURTIMES findings revealed that since the beginning of the year, prices of consumable goods, especially food stuffs have been on the rise despite low purchasing power of the citizens.

A survey conducted in some selected markets across the country showed that prices of food items have been increasing on a daily basis.

Both the sellers who are crying that they are recording low sales and the buyers who cannot buy what they need for their families because high food prices have continued to groan under the harsh economic reality.

On a month-on-month analysis, the prices were relatively stable this month compared to what they were in February, but on a general analysis of what they had always been since the start of the new year, the prices have been on a steady rise.

While the price increase is largely attributed to high inflation and scarcity of some food items as a result of insecurity occasioned by bandit attacks on farmers across the country, the recent decision by traders in the North not to transport food stuff from the region down to the south further heightened the tension in the price war.

With three weeks to the commencement of Ramadan fast, a time notorious for food stuff price hike, marketers have asked Nigerians not to expect a drop in food prices anytime soon.

OURTIMES checks around markets within Lagos and neighbouring Ogun State revealed that beans, rice, yam and other food materials were still high, though there seems to be a slight price drop compared to how much it was sold a month before.

Prices of pepper, onions and other vegetables are however low.

A bottle drinks wholesaler who wants to be identified simply as Mama Blessing said a pack of bottle water hitherto sold for between N400 to N450 now sells for N500.

The increase, she said, is attributable to increase in the cost of production.

Another foodstuff seller said 1kg of yam flour is now being sold at N900 instead of N750 it was selling previously, while 1kg of semo is now N450 instead of N350 to N400 it was selling for.

“A crate of small egg now sells for N1,200, an increase from between N800 to N900 it was selling earlier in the year, while a crate of big-sized eggs now sells for between N1,400 to N1,500. A tuber of yam, previously sold at N750 is now N800”, she stated.

According to Mrs Fausat, who sells food stuff in Arena market, Oshodi local government area of Lagos, food prices have gone up. She said, “For 10kg of semolina, we sell it at N3,700 whereas it was N3,500 before; a pack of Spaghetti before was N4,400 but now N4500. For noodles, it was N2,300 but now sells for N2,400. Oil price still remains the same”.

Iya Oloja of Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) market, Ikeja, Mrs Afusat Shehu, who also sells pepper, said a basket of tomatoes now sells for between N6,000 to N7,000, an improvement when compared to N30,000 it was sold a month ago.

A fruit seller in Arena market, Oshodi, Muhammad Abubakar, said a whole watermelon now goes for N400 instead of N300, and pineapple that was sold at N100 before, now goes for N300 to N400 depending on size.

In Kaduna state, prices of food stuff had been unstable and unpredictable, but generally on the increase.

According to Jonathan Akhatoro, a raw food retailer, a bag of beans which as of last month sold for N30,000 now sells for N50,000, while a mudu which was sold for N400 now sells for between N650 and N700.

He said while a bag of garri was N22,000 as of February, and a mudu N350, the food item now goes for 33,000 per bag and between N450 and N500 a mudu.

In Kano State, a cross section of traders at the famous Grain Market at Dawanau in Kano called on the federal government to do something urgently to address the high rate of inflation in the country.

Speaking with OURTIMES separately on the rising cost of food Stuff preparatory to the Ramadan fast, Alhaji Garzali Muhammed, Muftahu Abubakar, and Mas’ud Ibrahim described the situation as pathetic.

They said the grain sellers are losing customers due the hike in price of food items in the market.

Muhammed said in the last one month prices of food stuff had increased in a geometric progression, citing rice which was sold below N1000 but now sells at N1,250 depending on its standard as an instance.

Many, if not all in Sokoto State, were excited when the federal government announced Illela border as one of the land borders to be reopened but prices of food still remained high despite the reopening.

At the popular Sokoto Central food and vegetable market, otherwise known as Dankure market, both sellers and buyers were lamenting the high price of food items.

Speaking on the development, an economist from the Usmanu Dandodiyo University, Malam Shehu Imran, said Nigerians must expect this and even worse when the value of naira is low.

He also listed insecurity as one of the chief causes of high food prices.

The story is the same in Abuja, the nation’s capital, where even though there is abundance of seasonal food items, their prices are scary.

Reacting to the development, Prof Ademu Wada of the Department of Economics, University of Jos said the recent rumour of possible increase in the price of fuel is one of the contributing factors to the increase in the prices of food items.

He said it is not going to last, especially when it becomes obvious that there would be no increase in the price of fuel.

Also, an economist working with a private company in Enugu, Ikechukwu Onah, said though the news of the increase in the price of fuel later turned out to be false, it played a major role in the increase in the prices of food items.

For his part, an economist with Imo State University, Prof Dominic Chima, explained that the law of supply and demand sometimes affects the market, as traders adjust the prices of items depending on the frequency of demand.

Some of the experts who spoke with our correspondents attributed the current situation in the food market to inflation and low disposable income, adding that unless something urgent is done, the situation might not improve anytime soon.

The director-general of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr Muda Yusuf said, “There are many variables impacting domestic prices. These factors include transportation costs, logistics challenges, exchange rate depreciation, forex liquidity issues, hike in energy prices, climate change, insecurity in many farming communities and structural bottlenecks to production.”

He stated that these are essentially supply side issues, noting that any mitigation measures would have to be situated in the context of these variables.

He added that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had admitted that the potency of monetary policy instruments in tackling inflation is weak.

A chartered stockbroker and the chief executive officer, Sofunix Investment Communications Ltd, Mr Sola Oni, said the soaring inflation rate in Nigeria calls for concern.

Similarly, the chairman of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council, Dr Doyin Salami, said the country spent a whopping N1.85 trillion to import food for nine months during the closure of its land border, coupled with the declining output of agricultural produce by farmers who hardly go to farm because of insecurity.

Also speaking, an economist, Mr Adiat Ogunrinade, called for government intervention to avoid sudden death that may arise from high blood pressure among the middle and aged people.

CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, had said despite huge gains made by the apex bank in the agricultural sector, there remained significant challenges, particularly within the Nigerian agricultural commodities value chain, which needed to be tackled to accelerate investment and productivity.

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