August 26, 2021

Skyrocketing food prices: What Nigeria must do

2.6 million Nigerians at risk of food insecurity in 2024–FAO

File photo

By Dr Zainab Suleiman

Nigeria has been faced with ruinous problems of late, but what posits as the height of it all is the unbearable hike in prices of food commodities.

It is regrettably true that the country has found itself in serious food uptight condition and this has been a great concern for everyone, especially the poor and vulnerable.

It is also not a news that the country has been faced with worries of high electricity, fuel and transport prices.

The unbearable cost of food prices has now mutated into a major threat to the efforts of the government in ameliorating humanitarian crisis; developmental, socio-economic, and security-related difficulties militating against millions of Nigerians. This in turn, has also caused a severity on nutritional status of Nigerians. And the nutritional predicaments bedeviling people of Nigeria in the recent time will definitely be remembered as one of the most severe in recent time.

Nigerians have been in the mercy of this crisis; many live at risks, women in excruciating pains, and children whose stunted growth is compromising their chances of leading a dignified life.

In the recent time, the skyrocketing food prices in major cities across the country are being reported with deleterious effects on household budgets.

The series of insurgencies bedeviling the country, especially in the Northern part and pockets of dissentions in some states where most of the essential food items for the nation come from, have also adversely contributed to the ill reports about the astronomic rise for a range of food materials.

From vegetables to meat, garri, yam and rice, thus constricting consumers still battling with modest wages.

It is evidently clear to posit that a geographical area like the North-East, which has been a major source of food chain to other part of the country, especially the Southern part is the worst hit of insurgencies.

The above assertion is not just a hearsay or lip chirping as about 85 percent of foodstuffs consumed in cities like Lagos and other South-West states come from the North.

A quick example is the Oyinbo market, Mile 12 and Ketu in Lagos. The aforementioned areas get their food supplies from the North on a daily basis as innumerable trucks and lorries find their ways to those markets and are seen offloading series of farm produce, from tomatoes, pepper, onions, yams, potatoes, including rams and cows.

With a report on our recent market survey, it showed the high-priced goods have in turn yielded negative impacts both on the sellers and buyers.

A trader, Magaret Lamtan, who sells groceries and provisions in the market lamented that President Buhari knows the solution to the disturbing concern.

According to her, “Before, we used to buy a bag of milk for 3,500, now it it is N11,000. If you want to buy noodles, a carton goes for N850, but now, we are buying it for N2,500. The loaf of bread that I used to buy from bakers at N150, now sells for a double price because of the high cost of the flour, milk and sugar.

As traders, we are tired, we just sit under the sun getting nothing,” Mrs Lamtan lamented.

All these have their negative report cards on the lives of the people of Nigeria. The high cost of foodstuffs have hampered the livihood of most people. People can no longer afford good meals again, they eat all sorts of non-nutritious foods thereby giving in to malnourishment, and in turn gives a rise to nutrition diseases like Kwashiorkor and marasmus which are prevalent in average Nigerian children.

This has raised a major concern that the federal government must wake up from its slumber and create a functional and lasting solution to the food crisis.

The trio of local, state and federal government must create more enabling environment for greater food production to meet the daily rising demands as the population increases.

The dire need for population control in any country cannot be over-emphasized. And in a country like Nigeria, whose people solely depend on only one source of income, hence, the number is breathtaking and a control mechanism needs to be put in place.

No-brainer to understand that in a community that is perpetually pummelled with the wands of hunger, but the population index of such community increases, such will end in utter catastrophe.

READ ALSO: Skyrocketing food prices, dollar shortage drive up inflation to 14.2%

In a country where nothing is done to address the issues of population explosion, such nation is undoubtedly heading for chaos of overpopulation.
And in a situation like ours, overpopulation is a sure match that will light up a deposit of gun powder of our fragile economy and such will portend an adverse effect on the common growth of our economy, as well as the psychological being of citizens, and the nation at large.

According to the 2006 census headcount, the nascent population index of Nigeria puts the country at a breathtaking figure of 200 million people.

Due to such population burst, a series of issues like hunger, poverty, unemployment and genocide have also been on the increase. Many people strives for limited available resources.

A quick and typical example is that of the just concluded JAMB Examination, where millions of candidates registered and were competing for admission sits meant for only 30,000 students (JAMB Fact Sheet).

The dastard barrage is also experienced in other sectors, food and fuel provision, housing, land tenure and employment.

No gainsay, the country’s population explosion has overstretched the few resources available. Such in turn, is playing detrimental role in all areas of one’s daily living. It is safe to say a large population is a harbinger for poverty and inimical situations in Nigeria, where a citizen is dependent on one source of income that offers limited enabling environment. This problem births the question of why would a sane individual want to give birth and raise many children in a country as ours.

The high rating of poverty in Nigeria has led a lot into malicious behaviours.

Corruption in every aspect of living has now become a monster that has grown out of proportion.

Ethnic, religious or political, everyone now hates one another. If the government must sit tight and tighten every loose ends, this is the best time.

With the current spate of inflationary rates of food prices in the markets, the government at all levels should work on modalities to control the prices of foods and other products in the market.

There should be an urgent need to consider measures that would ensure a steady flow of foods to the market and have the recent price increment reversed.
Through the federal government, a competent task force should be set up to actualize the control. The Task force should be able to scissors down some of the cost – raising factors that affects the availability and cost of products. Thereby, a good relationship will be made between the farmers and marketers and therefore, a relief to the people.

Vanguard News Nigeria