- Rice (50kg bag) N18,000. Tomato (Basket) N6,000. Garri (Basin) N3,500
Cost of living hit high roofs in May 2016 as prices of food became all time astronomical, with increase in price climbing more than 200 percent of their prices in March 2016.
For instance, in Abuja and its environs, a big basket of tomatoes which sold for N2, 500 at the popular orange market, now sells between N38,000 and N40, 000.
The smaller basket popularly called dustbin basket which sold for between N400 and N500 in March now sells for between N4, 300 and N6,000 in some markets.
A mudu garri that previously sold for N150 now goes for N300 while bag of rice that sold for N9,500 now goes for as much as N18, 000, making most essential commodities beyond the reach of the average Nigerian.
Mallam Suleiman Aminu, a tomato seller at the Wuse Market, said the high cost was as a result of delayed rainfall, noting that most traders depended on the irrigation farmers for the supply of farm produce like pepper, tomatoes and vegetables in the country.
According to him, “Due to the high population of people in Nigeria, the quantity we have is not able to meet up with the high demand of the product and like we all know, when supply is low, demand will be high and that is what is causing increase in price.”
The traders told our reporters during a market survey that due to the high cost of essential goods and commodities, there had been low patronage.
“The price changes every day. Last week the same basket was sold for N3,500, and this week it has risen to N4000. It is a very tough situation.”
Further investigation showed that the price increase was caused by change in rain pattern.
“Tomato is generally a dry season vegetable. Ẁhen heavy rains starts the vegetable gets rotten on the farms, which generally affects supply.
“It means that many retailers or wholesalers could go directly to the farms but will not get much, and may be forced to purchase at outrageous prices out of desperation,” said one observer.
Mallam Ibrahim Abubarkar, a beef seller also at market, attributed the rising cost of beef to high demand and the delay in rain fall, noting that when there was rain fall the grass would be green and the cattle would be well fed, but with the delay in rainfall, the herdsmen would have to source for their feeds from other sources to keep the animals fit, which is a very expensive means.
Abubarkar said, “The price of beef has increased because before now, we used to by a cow for N200,000 or N250, 000, but now it is sold for N300,000 and that is why we now sell a kilo of meat for N1200, against N800. You should also know that the population can also determine the level of your business. We sellers can easily identify our major customers.”
A consumer who came to shop for food items at the Wuse Market, Mrs. Funmi Akindele described the hike in food prices as “worrisome.”
She said, “The increase of food prices is beginning to be a worrisome situation as there is no money in the country. So because of the high demand for the commodities, things are so difficult these days.”
Also, residents of Port Harcourt are not left out in the lamenting, as prices of food stuff continue to increase daily in the state.
A resident who gave her name as Ijeoma said: “In fact, the most important thing now is how to feed before you think of pleasure.”
A petty trader addressed simply as Ngozi stated that a bag of rice which used to go for N12,000 is now N15,000 in Port Harcourt while a basin of garri which sold for N1200 is now N3500.
She further stated that a rubber of fresh tomatoes which was sold for N1,000 now goes for N2500.
“With this, we now sell a cup of rice for N80, whole rubber is N1300. Fresh tomatoes that we used to measure for N100 is now N200 while a rubber of garri that we sold for N200 is now N400,” she said.
In Sokoto at the popularly Kara Market, a basket of tomatoes formerly sold at N1,000 now sells for N5, 500.
Similarly, a bag of onions which sold for between N4, 000 now sells for between N10, 000 and N15, 000.
Musa Altine, a meat-seller at the Kasuwan Nama told our reporter that the high cost of meat was due to increase in transportation fair.
“Prices of the meat have gone up because of the high demand for them and the high cost of fuel nationwide.
“The truth of the matter is that the prices will remain like this until things stabilise,” he said.
Mrs A’i Garba, a house wife, said that the hike in food prices was alarming.
“Increase in the prices of food items is getting worse by the day and that should not be.
“The government’s agency in charge of price regulation should do something about this,” she said.
Similarly, a bag of rice which sold for between N9, 000 and N10, 000 now sells at between N16,000 and N18,000 while a rubber of garri sold for N300 now sells at N600.
Owing to the prevailing economic hardship across the country, residents of Asaba, the Delta State capital, have continued to lament over the persistent high cost of foodstuffs in the market.
According to a market survey conducted by our correspondent on the prevailing cost of foodstuffs in Asaba, a 50kg bag of rice which was sold before now at N12,000 is currently sold at N15,500 whereas one little bucket of rice now sells at N1,500.
One little bucket of beans now sells at N700 while one carton of three litres of groundnut oil which usually sold at N6,000 now sells at N8,500, whereas one big basket of fresh tomatoes sold at N5,000 now sells at N30,000.
Equally, one carton of turkey which cost N9,500 now sells at N10,100 as one carton of chicken which sold at N8,000 now sells at N9,000. One kilo of turkey now goes for N1,100 while a kilo of chicken now sells N9,050.
Meanwhile, onion is perceived to be the cheapest in the market presently, as one bag of onions which was sold at N10,000 now goes for N6,500.
In Lagos, according to Mr. Hyginus Nweze who sells staple food items such as rice, beans and garri at Iyana-Ipaja Market, the high prices have reduced patronage as a bag of rice, depending on the brand, which sold for between N11, 000 and N12,000 now goes for around N13,000 and N13,500.
He said the price of garri which stood N6,200 last month now goes for about N7,300 while the price of beans remains N15,000.
Mrs. Lateefat Ayobami said a basket of tomatoes which was sold for between N18,000 to N20,000 last month now goes for N35,000-N40,000 while a small bag of pepper is N7,000.
Several factors have been adduced for this high costs.
Timi Ekpo from Bayelsa who sells beef in Swali market attributed the rising cost of beef to the high demand of the commodity because of the dollar rate, also blaming the poor condition of the road from the abattoir to the other areas.
However, economic experts say the situation in place is a sign of a crunching inflation that is hovering over the country.
Data obtained from the Bureau of Statistics indicates that Nigerian inflation has moved to double digit since the first quarter this year.
In March, consumer prices increased 2.2 percent over the previous month, which was a notch below February’s 2.3 percent increase. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the month-on-month increase mainly reflected higher prices for imported food, housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels as well as for food and non-alcoholic beverages.
Inflation in March jumped from February’s 11.4 percent to 12.8 percent.
The print represented the highest rate since July 2012 and overshot the 11.8 percent that market analysts had expected. As a result, annual average inflation ticked up from February’s 9.4 percent to 9.8 percent in March, thereby reaching a nearly three-year high.
Core consumer prices, which exclude farm produce and energy prices, rose 1.6 percent in March over the previous month, which matched the result tallied in February. Core inflation jumped from 9.5 percent in February to 10.3 percent in March.
Investigations conducted across the country suggest that price of consumer goods particularly food stuffs and agricultural produce has skyrocketed.
Analysts have linked the increasing inflation particularly in the consumer prices to persistent fuel crises and insecurity that has rocked the country from the beginning of the year.
According to Focus Economics panellists, persistent policy uncertainty, low crude prices, security threats related to Boko Haram, fuel and power shortages and disruptions in oil exports are all weighing on Nigeria’s economic outlook.
They forecast that GDP will grow 2.8 perccent in 2016, which is down 0.6 percentage points from last month’s projection. In 2017, the panel expects the economy to grow 4.2 percent.