Nigerians, especially low-ranking civil servants and other low-income earners are groaning over skyrocketing food prices, amidst employment crises and stagnation of payment structures.
This is coming on the heels of a recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that the inflation rate had risen by 18.17 percent in March 2021, up from the 17.33 percent recorded in February 2021.
The NBS report had indicated that the food inflation rate rose by 22.95 per cent in March 2021 compared to 21.79 per cent in February 2021.
Food commodities rise in Abuja
Traders in Abuja told Daily Trust that there has been a price increase in food commodities since the last three months even though the price of rice has been stable since the last five months.
A provisions seller, Ahmadu Tijjani, told our correspondent that they were not given reasons for the hike in the price of some of the goods, stating that since food commodities are essential people would still buy even if they have to reduce their purchasing capacity.
According to Tijjani, there is a 20 per cent increase of a good formerly sold for N1, 000 while a 50cl pack of Coca Cola has increased to N1700 from N1600, adding that a local measure of beans that previously sold for N500, N450 is now selling for N800, N650.
“The price of rice has been stable for the past five months so there is no increase in it but a carton of 12 grams Peak milk that we sold for N6500 is now N9500 while a 2.6 litre of Power Oil has moved to 2600 from 3,000,” he said.
Musa Kana, a meat seller, blamed the increase in meat in the market to the rise of insecurity in some parts of the country pointing out that a kilo of meat sold for 1500 three months ago is now 2000 to 2500 depending on the bargaining power of the customer.
“Anytime we go to the market, we come back with whatever we can afford. A cow that we used to buy for N300, 000 is now N600, 000 while that of 250,000 is now N500, 000 or N450,000.”
“The commodities are not scarce but the problem is going to the market to get them due to the security situation in some parts of the country. We can’t go to states like Katsina and Sokoto where cows are cheap; we now source them from Kano, Bauchi or Gombe State,” he said.
Rising food price rattles consumers in Lagos
Daily Trust observed that at Mangoro market, a small sachet of Dangote granulated sugar, which was sold at N50 now sells at N150 while that of N100 before now sells at N300.
Also, the cost of Milo refill (1kg) has increased from N1, 700 to N2, 000 while a 1kg of tin Milo formerly sold at N2, 000 now sells at N2, 700. Tin Milo (500g) is now N1, 700 from N1, 200.
The price of Dano full cream milk (800kg) has risen to N2, 300 while a 360g now sells for N1, 200.
Peak milk refill (350g) now sells at N1, 200 while a 900g sells at N2, 700. The price of a small sachet of peak milk has risen from N50 to N60.
Baby food is not exempted as a tin of NAN 1 and NAN 2 now sell at N2,500 from N2,200 before now Similarly, a 50kg bag of Cap rice is sold at N25,500 and the half bag sold at N12,500 while 100kg of both iron and honey beans are sold at N60,000.
Mrs. Regina Oboh who runs a food canteen and buys from the Ketu market said: “The number of yams I buy for N1, 500 now previously sold for 1200 or 1300 last month. Oil is the only thing that came down. I bought it for N500 last month but now it is 450 naira for a litre.”
Civil servants groan
A civil servant with the Ministry of Information in Lagos State, Mr. Azeez Olatubosun described as a sorry situation, the rising prices of food items.
“The situation is mounting pressure on me as a civil servant and head of my family. Ramadan has also further aggravated the situation as prices of food items and beverages keep soaring.
“The family economy is shrinking because the salary is being used to buy items at exorbitant prices. Our salaries remain the same but prices of items keep increasing, which means that we now buy fewer items with the same money. If care is not taken, the situation is capable of causing rancour among couples,” he said.
Another civil servant, Mrs Lara Ade lamented that prices of food items and water have gone up.
According to her, a set of sachet water, which was sold at N1, 000 before, now sold at N1, 200 and that the price of bottled water has risen from N50 to N70.
“The situation is not palatable at all because we have too many things contending with our salary, including school fees, house rent and transportation and on top of it all, food and water are expensive to buy. Things have not remained the same after the COVID-19 lockdown and EndSARS protest,” she lamented.
Price hike slows sales in Kano
In Kano State, consumers and operators of agricultural commodity markets are lamenting either hike in price or poor sales even when the commodities are very much available in the markets.
At Singer market, 50kg of local rice is selling at N22, 500 to N23, 000 while 50kg of foreign rice is selling at N24, 500 to N25, 000. It was also gathered that 50kg of sugar at the Singer market is selling at N18, 300 to N18, 500 depending on the brand’s specification.
Also, a carton of 60cl coke drink is selling at N1, 800 while a carton of malt is selling at N1, 700 in the market while at the Dawanau International Grain Market a 100kg bag of locally produced rice is selling at N49, 500, a 100kg bag of maize at N21, 000, a 100kg bag of beans at N39, 000 even as a 100kg bag of wheat is selling at N34, 000.
Malam Sagir Bello, a civil servant with the Kano State government said the recent inflation has been one of the worst ever experienced by civil servants in the state for the fact that the state government had reverted to the old salary scale after months of new salary scale implementation.
Another worker, Malam Shehu Zangina revealed that the current inflation level has eaten deep down the financial capability of an average civil servant adding that it is currently an issue of availability of commodities but no buyers.
Insecurity hampers farming in Kaduna
In Kaduna, our correspondent reports that food items have been on the rise since early March with many attributing the increase in food prices to the anticipated bulk purchase during the Ramadan fast. Daily Trust reports that a 50kg bag of foreign rice is now sold at between N25, 000 and N27, 000 while local rice is sold at N22, 000.
A 25 litre of vegetable oil is sold at between N22,000 and N23,000 while a bag of 50kg of sugar is sold at N19,000. Our correspondent reports that a kilo of meat is now sold at between N1, 700 and N1, 800 and a bag of potatoes goes as high as N40,000.
Ibrahim Hassan, a civil servant in Kaduna said the hike in prices of foodstuff is biting harder this year adding the many families have not gotten out of the COVID-19 hardship. Hassan said a measure of local rice now costs N750, which is too high for families especially during Ramadan.
Jafaru Abdullahi, a farmer from Anaba village in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State whose village was sacked by bandits in February described as unfortunate the soaring prices of foodstuff and lamented that they have been unable to farm grains due to banditry activities.
Food, beverage prices soar in Rivers
Prices of food items and beverages such as rice, beans, tomatoes, and onions, provisions such as milk, sugar, Milo, meat, semovita, bread and fish have skyrocketed beyond the rich of the ordinary man in Rivers State.
A survey carried out by our reporter showed that prices of some foodstuff rose by 100 per cent. For instance, a bag of local rice, which was sold at N20, 000 has gone up to N28,000 while the same bag of foreign rice goes for N38,000. The small size of yam tuber, which sold between N300 to N450 now sells at N1000 to N1500.
A custard bucket of tomatoes which sold for N700 now costs N1700 while the same custard bucket of potatoes which cost N500 now goes for N1200.
Daily Trust reports that the high increase in the prices of food items has affected so many families as well as salary earners. Some of the civil servants who spoke with our reporter said that they are finding it difficult to cope with the skyrocketing increase in the prices of food items.
MAN, NACCIMA seek urgent action
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and the Nigerian Association of Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (NACCIMA) have expressed worry over the rising inflation in a country that is just recovering from recession.
The Director-General of MAN, Mr. Segun Ajayi-Kadir in his comment said it is more so for the manufacturing sector that remained in recession, even after the technical exit of the country’s economy.
“The manufacturing sector posted a growth rate of -1.51 per cent in the Q4 2020 from -1.52 per cent in Q3 of the same year,” he said.
Also, the Director-General of NACCIMA, Ambassador Ayoola Olukanni who said the rising cost of food is not surprising; recalled that NACCIMA had on several occasions warned that the upward trajectory of inflation is what will happen if action is not taken to address underlining causes of the inflationary trends.
“Most significant in this regard is the issue of insecurity, which is spreading across the country and its consequences on agricultural production especially by the small farm holders across the food belt of the nation. Many of these farmers are either not able to engage in active farming or evacuate their farm produce. The shortage of forex, depreciation in the exchange rate and huge import bill has also all combined to produce the upward inflationary trend we are witnessing,” he said.
Dr. Bongo Adi, a Senior Lecturer at the Lagos Business School said insecurity and deficits in government financing are core in the rising inflationary trend.