Nigerians groan as prices of food items rise
•Bags of beans, yam flour now sell for N100,000 •Cartons of croaker, ‘Titus’ fish now N40,000, N30,000
NIGERIANS are groaning over the unbearable increase in the price of food items. A market survey carried out by Saturday Tribune across the country showed that a 30kg of palm oil which used to sell for N8,000 now sells for N24,000 while a 25kg of groundnut oil that used to sell for between N5,500 and N7,500 now sells for N28,000.
For a 20kg bag of garri that used to sell for between N5,000 and N6,000, the price is now N14,000.
Fifty kilogrammes of yam flour (elubo) has skyrocketed to N100,000 while a 50kg bag of beans has equally gone to between N70,000 and N100,000, depending on the type and location of sale. A carton of chicken that used to sell for between N7,000 and N8,000 now sells for N17,000 while the same quantity of turkey has risen from between N7,000 and N8,000 to N24,000.
A carton of croaker fish has increased from N18,000 to N40,000 while that of ‘Titus’ fish has equally increased to N30,000. One kilogramme of semolina is now N6,000 as against the former price of N2,500.
While a carton of noodles that sold for between N2,700 (small type) and N4,500 (big one) now sells for N12,000, a carton of spaghetti is now N6,500 from N2,200, just as a 25kg gallon of kerosene now sells for N10,500.
However, there is a noticeable downward review in the prices of some soup ingredients like a basket of tomatoes which at a time sold for N30,000 but is now selling for N12,000. While a bag of pepper (rodo) that used to cost between N12,000 and N15,000 has now reduced to N7,000 and N8,000, a bag of bawa, another specie of pepper, also sells for the same price, depending on the quality.
Some traders who spoke to Saturday Tribune lamented that the prices of the food items are becoming almost unbearable.
For Mummy Ope, who runs a frozen foods store and sells other food items like garri, beans, rice and groundnut oil at Bammeke, Shasha, Lagos, due to the continuous hike in the prices of food items, her profit margin has reduced. She said this had affected her purchasing power as customers could no longer make as much purchase as they used to.
For Saliu, who sells tomatoes and pepper on Ogunlana Street, Egbeda, Lagos, although the prices of some of the items have come down a little bit, “there is no guarantee that the prices in the market today is what you will find tomorrow.”
The traders called on the government to urgently intervene and save the masses from certain starvation, even as they expressed fear that the situation might get worse as the Yuletide draws near. Saliu attributed the outrageous increase to the activities of bandits, Boko Haram and herdsmen which have aggravated the security challenges in the country.
According to him, today, farmers don’t want to go farms for fear of being killed, while traders who used to transport commodities like tomatoes, pepper and onions from the North to the South in big trucks now move the items in small vehicles as a way of avoiding being noticed by bandits.
Food prices have continued to soar daily in Ogun State. A market survey conducted by Saturday Tribune at Kuto Market in Abeokuta South Local Government Area indicated that prices of foodstuffs are on the high side.
A bag of foreign rice that sold for between N21,000 and N22,000 in the last two weeks has increased to N24,000, while the price of six big tubers of yams has jumped from N3,000 to N4,500.
A bag of beans now sells for between N80,000 and N40,000, depending on the size. A pack of spaghetti is now N5,500, having jumped from N4,800.
A market leader at Kuto, Mrs Racheal Ogunrinde, said the high cost of food items and other daily needs had become a cause for concern.
She explained that many traders were now approaching financial institutions and cooperative societies to get loans to augment their businesses.
“Daily increase in the prices of commodities is making life miserable for us as traders and our customers. Food sellers are not buying in large quantities again. They buy with little resources they have. Times are indeed hard. Things are not easy again.
“Our governments should assist us. They should provide soft loans for us to boost our businesses,” she said.
Prices of foodstuffs rise over insecurity in Anambra
People have continued to experience high prices of food items in Anambra State as a result of the ongoing security crisis in the state in particular and the South East in general.
Our correspondent, who visited the popular Eke-Awka Market in Awka, the state capital, on Friday, gathered that the prices of food items were high, with traders recording low patronage. At Eke-Awka, which is the only popular market in the state capital, a cup of beans that used to sell for between N90 and N100 now goes for N180, while a small bucket of the commodity cow costs N2,800, against its former price of N1,550.
The rise in the price of the item became noticeable after the commencement of attacks on the residents by gunmen.
The situation became compounded when the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) began its sit-at-home protest strategy.
While a ‘kongo’ of local rice formerly selling for N900 now sells for N1,800, imported rice of same measure which sued to sell for N1,800 now goes for N2,500. Same with gaari, which now goes for N1,200 as against its earlier price of N700. In the case of yam, the price varies according to size and weight. The price ranges from N200 to N1,500.
A seller of foodstuffs in the market, Mrs Chinyere Oduak, attributed the rising prices to the security situation in the South East, especially in the rural areas where 90 per cent of the food items are produced.
“Before the insecurity, I travelled every week to Akwa Ibom State to buy yam and gaari but I cannot do that again because of the situation. I now buy within the state at a high cost and resell at a high price as well,” Oduak said.
She said she had recorded poor sales due to the high cost of the food items, adding that many people now prefer eating at ‘mama put’ (street food stalls or roadside restaurants) to eating at home.
“I am not happy because my goods now take a long time before they get sold with poor profits after much preaching to customers,” Oduak lamented Ms. Ego Okafor, who sells yam, said a medium-size tuber of new yam goes for between N700 and N900, depending on the size. The President General of Eke-Awka Market, Chief Ikechukwu Okoye, who spoke to Saturday Tribune on the development, said he was surprised about the everyday increase in the prices of foodstuffs. He listed government negligence of the agricultural sector, kidnapping, banditry, killings, destruction of farm produce by Fulani herdsmen, disrespect for farmers by the political class and government workers, lack of social amenities in rural areas and multiple market levies imposed by the government and touts as the major causes of the increase in the price of foodstuff in Awka, Onitsha and Nnewi.
Saturday Tribune gathered that the price of items like pear, onions and groundnut in the market has gone up.
Consumers, sellers lament in Enugu
Consumers and sellers alike have expressed their unhappiness about the soaring cost of staple foods in the Enugu metropolis.
A survey by Saturday Tribune in the Enugu State capital showed that beans which sold for about N6,000 per 25kg bag, N12,000 for 50kg and N23,000 for 100kg in February now sells for N7,800 per bag of 25kg, N15,000 for 50kg and N30,000 per 100kg bag. Smaller measures of ‘penta’ (paint container) sell for N2,300 per ‘penta’.
Rice is also not faring any better at it sells for N9,000-N10,000 for the 25kg of ‘local’, while Sortexted Coal City, Tomato and Ebonyi rice sell at N12,500-N13,000/25kg, foreign rice at N25,000 per 25kg, while the prices double and quadruple for 50 and 100kg, respectively.
These prices are at a variance with the February prices of N7,500-N8,000 per 25kg, N15,500 for 50kg,and N30,000 for the 100kg bag for ‘local’ and Sortexted at N11,500 for the 25kg, N23000 for 50kg and N45,000 for the 100kg.
The price of the foreign rice rose a bit from its February price of N18,000 per 25kg, N35,000 for 50kg and N68,000 for 100kg bags. Yam sells for N450-N600 for the moderate tuber that serves two light eaters, while bigger ones sell for between N900 and N1,400 and prize tubers, better known as ‘thanksgiving’ size, sell for between N1,500 and N2,500 per tuber.
Nubuisi George, a dealer in rice and beans at Ariara Market, bemoaned the development: “High cost of transport and insecurity are caused by these Fulani terrorists who impede farming and harvest. Again, when poverty and lack of money make it impossible for people to buy food, patronage in the market becomes very low.”
At the Relief market along Egbu Road, Owerri, the cost of foodstuffs such as yam, rice, beans, onions and tomatoes is prohibitive. The chairman of the Yam Dealers Association in the market, Mr Ndubuisi Okere, told Saturday Tribune that the cost of a tuber of yam now ranged from N1,000 and N1,500 to N2,000, depending on the size.
He attributed the situation to the high cost of transporting the goods to Owerri. An executive member of the Zenith Perishable Farm Produce Association, Alhaji Muhammadu Danmassani, also lamented the high levies charged on the road by a government task force.
According to him, “there are seven places where the drivers are stopped by the task force to pay and at each stop, the driver is forced to pay N20,000 before he would be allowed to go.”
Danmassani, however, said that the present cost of tomatoes in the market was low. He said that a basket of tomatoes from Boko sold for N5,800 as against the earlier price of N10,000, while tomatoes from Kano State, which sold for N15,000 were now N5,000.
According to him, tomatoes from Plateau State cost between N12,000 and N13,000. A rice dealer in the Relief Market, Mrs Joan Njoku, told Saturday Tribune that ‘Mama Pride’, a particular brand of rice, now sold for N24,000 instead of N23,000, while ‘Golden Nore’ rice, ‘Ebony Supper’ rice and ‘Awaben’ rice sold for N24,000, N26,500 and N27,000, respectively, as against N23,000, N26,000 and N26,000.
Mrs Nuoku expressed dissatisfaction with the current situation in the country, recalling that before the emergence of President Buhari, she was selling a certain brand of rice for N8,000. While demanding that a bag of rice should cost less, she appealed to the government to come to the rescue of the people.
Another dealer in beans, Mr Stephen Ukabiala, spoke about the high cost of beans in the market He said 100kg iron beans ‘blind eye’ currently sold for N62,000 as against N34,000 previously, while iron brown beans now sold for N70,000 as against the earlier cost of N35,000. ‘Patasco’ and ‘Mayshugar’ beans, according to him, which used to cost N25,000 and N12,000, now cost N55,000 and N50,000, as the case may be.
He said other grains that earlier sold for N18,000 now cost N38,000.
Ebonyi State citizens are not spared from the hike in the price of commodities. Traders and buyers at the International Market, Abakaliki, lamented on Friday when Saturday Tribune called.
It was gathered that prices of commodities like rice, beans and gaari have increased by about 100 per cent between the beginning of the year and now.
A trader who deals in different types of beans, corn, millet and groundnuts, Mrs Nnenna Okereke, told Saturday Tribune that the increase had drawn their business backwards as they hardly made meaningful sales anymore.
Mrs Okereke said: “The price of beans is increasing every day; no permanent price. What you buy today will be different from what you buy tomorrow. It is no longer a time to sit down in the house and write food list. If you do it and come to the market, you will end up thinking that armed robbers have stolen your money. Today, for instance, a ‘painter’ of ‘Iron’ beans is N2,800, ‘Malaysia’ is N3,000, ‘Patasco’ is N2,600 and ‘Aloke’ beans, N2,700.”
She added that anything less than the price would result in a loss for her as the price of a bag of ‘Iron’ beans is N80,000, while ‘Aloke’ and ‘Patasto’ beans sold for N75,000 per bag.
A set of yam comprising five big tubers which used to go for between N2,500 and N3,000 now goes for between N7,000 and N7,500, amounting to an average of N1,500 per tuber of big yam. For gaari, a bag which hovered between N9,000 and N12, 000, now sells for N900 per custard bucket and two cups for N100, as against five cups for N100 before now.
Checks around Delta State on Friday showed that besides the cost of staple food like gaari that has nosedived a bit, others like rice and beans have become unaffordable for most households. At the two major markets in the twin towns of Effurun and Warri, traders lamented low patronage which they attributed to low purchasing power chasing fewer goods.
A four-liter paint bucket of gaari went for N400 before the advent of COVID-19 and went as high as N1,500 but the price has reduced to N900.
A bag of the commodity now costs as much as N18,000.
Checks also revealed that a 25kg bag of local rice sells for N25,000 and foreign rice, N35,000 as of Friday.
A four-litre paint bucket of local and foreign rice goes for N2,500 and N3,500, respectively. An average size of yam, in spite of being in its season, sells for N600 A bag of white beans goes for N51,000 from N7,500 pre-COVID-19.
A basket of tomatoes has moved to N15,000 from N5,000 it sold for a few months ago. A four-liter of Okomu palm oil that was N3,200 a few days ago now sells for N4,000.
Speaking to Saturday Tribune, one of the market leaders at Effurun market in Uvwie Local Government Area of the state, a certain Mrs Obinna, urged the government to intervene before things become extremely unbearable.
“The government should intervene. The country is on fire. People are suffering. The rate of stealing now in the market is very high. We are angry,” Mrs Obinna lamented.
Mrs Anna Arotore, a tomato seller, said: “Things are too expensive. God help us. Factors like bad roads, police extortion and herdsmen activities are responsible for the hike.”
Joe Tochukwu, a rice and beans seller, said: “The government is not helping matters. Farmers can’t go to farms because of herdsmen. Things are hard. We hardly sell because people don’t have money to purchase foodstuffs.”
In the capital, Asaba, and its environs, Saturday Tribune price survey showed that the price of rice has remained stable for the past two months while that of beans experienced a little increase.
At Ogwashi Uku main market, the price of local rice ranges from N24,000 to N27,000 per bag, depending on the quality. A cup of local rice goes for N130 while a 25kg bag of foreign rice sells for N31,000.
A bag of brown beans sells for N90,000 as against N77,000 two months ago while a bag of white beans goes for N78,000 as against N65,000 previously.
A bag of onions sells for N40, 000. However, the price of yam has dropped as a tuber which used to sell for N700 now costs N500. The drop, according to traders, is as a result of the period of new yam harvest.
A foodstuff trader in the market, Mr Agbo Okechukwu, said the steep price increase was affecting businesses, saying “some of us are tired because of the high cost of the items”.
Foodstuff dealers in Calabar markets blamed the hike in the price of the commodities on the prevailing high cost of transportation, haphazard government agricultural strategies and policies, as well as border closure and taxation. Speaking anonymously to Saturday Tribune at Watt market, a leader of the Yam Dealers Association in Calabar said although the prices were high, they could not sell the foodstuffs below the cost price.
He said: “It has not been easy but we cannot sell below the cost price. It is not our fault. I can tell you that none of our members has increased the prices on their own. The problem is the factors influencing our business. When the roads are bad, transportation cost becomes very high. Fuel price is high, so what do you expect us to do?”
Also speaking, a patron of the Yam Dealers Association in the city, a certain Mr Ihegirika, added that the government had refused to do the right thing, hence the extreme price hike in Nigerian markets.
“If you want close borders, you should first consult with relevant stakeholders in the food production and marketing value chain, create farm settlements to engage food producers and have a price policy plan. But these processes were ignored, all the government did was to rush and block all the borders and we are not producing enough for ourselves. That is where we got it wrong,” Ihegirika said.
An officer of the Rice Dealers Association put the cost of transporting 50 kg or 100kg of rice from Lagos to Calabar at about N1,000 while Onitsha to Calabar is N500 per bag.
According to Mr Nfon Linus, a yam dealer, “a tuber of yam, irrespective of the size, is transported from Benue State to Calabar at the cost of N850 each while each is sold for N300, N500, N800, N1,500, N1,800, depending on the size”.
He added that before now, a tuber of yam sold for N1,500 but today the same size goes for about N2,000 or N3,000.
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