August 6, 2011

Nigerians groan as food prices rise

Christmas: Bag of rice now N31,000, as prices soar in FCT markets

Awka residents decry high cost of foodstuff in spite of rain

At noon, the ever busy Obada market, Isolo was so scanty that one could count the number of marketers. The reason for this was not far fetched. The prices of foodstuffs and other essential commodities have rises in most markets across the country.

Nobody can tell what is responsible for the increase which has systematically affected sales’ of goods. As sellers cry over low demand, consumers complain of increase in food prices which prevent them from buying what they need.

This writer who monitored market prices in some state capitals noted that the prices of foodstuffs and other essential commodities, such as rice, beans, groundnut-oil, soyabeans, genuine corn, corn, palm-oil, fruits, vegetables, eggs and beverages that are in high demand during the Ramadan fast have soared.

Foodstuff prices in the market has gone too high for the average Nigerian to buy.

Could the increase have been caused because of the Ramadan season? This question was posed to one of the marketers who opined that the increase in prices of goods has been there before the inception of the Ramadan season. According to him, “Things are expensive in the market. And the Ramadan season has contributed to the fall out in demand. Everybody is complaining. We are only pleading with the Nigerian government to assist us.”

He said a bag of sweet beans goes for N25,000 as against the initial N12,000 while a bag of big brown beans sells for N17, 200 as against the former price ofN15,000. “I don’t have a bag of beans in my shop because of the price. Although, people consume beans a lot, yet it is very expensive and it affected the sales.

Now, a bag of rice is sold for N9,000 against the initial N5,000. Some people said government’s restriction from importing this particular has affected it. Further investigations show that the prices of a bag of the various brands of imported rice have gone up to between N9,500 and N10,000 as against the former price of between N7,000 and N7,500.

While some traders attributed some of the reasons for the hike in price to the Ramadan fast, the increase in the minimum wage of workers, high cost of transportation and increase in the cost of diesel, amongst others, others balmed the rising cost of fruits to “high demand during the Ramadan fast, increase in the minimum wage of workers, in addition to personal costs incurred by retailers from suppliers.”

The price of fruits like oranges, pineapples and banana has also risen with a bag of oranges being sold for between N7,000 and N7,500 from N4,000 and N5,000. A big bunch of banana goes for N700 and N1,000, while water melon remains fairly stable at N300 and N400.

The survey also showed that the price of perishable goods like tomatoes has gone up with a big basket of the commodity selling for between N19,500 and N12,000 as against the former price of between N8,500 and N9,000. Prices of frozen fish, and vegetable oil have also skyrocketed. The cost of frozen fish has increased with a medium sized fish selling for between N250 and N350 as against N130 and N180, its initial price.

Mrs. Risikat Yusuf, a fish seller, said the increment in prices of fish in the country is a bad omen. For her, “fish has never been that costly over the years to what we are experiencing now. Our fish is costly and we don’t know what caused it. Since I have been in this business, I’ve not experienced increase in prices of fish as it is now. The same amount we used to buy a carton now was used for two bags in the past. The smallest fish is between N200, N250 as against the initial price. Before it was three for N400. The patronage has changed. It is too low. The Ramadan also contributed to the downfall. Ten litres of foreign vegetable oil, which formerly sold for between N2,800 and N3,000 is now selling for between N3,500 and N4,000 depending on the brand, while a bag of big brown beans now sells for N17, 200 as against the former price ofNI5,000.

Ikechukwu Nnakwe, a trader in the town said that a tin of powdered Peak Milk now sells for N700 as against the former price ofN650.

According to him, the economy situation of the country is so unbearable that, “we don’t even know what is going on in the country again. Everything is low in terms of sales. I am confused. I don’t know if it is the economy or the Ramadan season. People are complaining of not having enough money. There is no market, yet things are expensive.”

Yaya Rabiu, a meat seller, said a cow is sold for N140,000 as against its initial price ofN80,000. He attributed the increase to the Ramadan season, saying that the price will increase because those who are dealing on it sales will be returning home for Ramadan fast, adding that meat will be costly and scarce.