• Saturday, April 20, 2024
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BusinessDay

Four ways Nigerians can cope with rising food costs

Building a smart marketplace for food

Nigerians are battling rising food prices with inflation hitting an all-time high of 28.92 percent in December 2023, the highest since January 2003, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has shown.

As such, food prices, which contribute about 50 percent to the headline inflation rate, have continued to rise in Africa’s most populous country.

In many Western African countries, the prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity in urban and semi-urban areas is similar to that in rural areas, and in some cases, slightly higher, indicating that food insecurity is not exclusively a rural problem.

Read also: Nigerians further squeezed as food prices rise

According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), West Africa, Nigeria included, remains off-track to meet the food and security target of the Sustainable Development Goal by 2030.

Nigeria’s agricultural sector faces many obstacles. However, the insecurity menace that plagues farmers tops the list. This has made many farmers abandon their farms, impacting food production.

“Insecurity issues affecting distributors of agro products have been a challenge,” Abiodun Olorundero, founder/managing partner at Prasinos Farms, told BusinessDay, sharing a personal experience of a colleague who was kidnapped while working on his farm.

While insecurity is affecting food production, the impact of climate change and the surge in input costs (seeds and fertilisers), are factors militating against the availability of food too.

At a recent World Economic Forum event on ‘Treating Soil as a Precious Resource’ held in Davos, Switzerland, Antony Blinken, U.S. secretary of state said the world was at risk of food scarcity in the next 20 or 30 years if attention was not given to sustain adequate food production.

“Seeds and soil, we put them together, and we can begin to answer a lot of the challenges that our world is going to face over the next 25 or 30 years.”

He emphasised the importance of good soils and seeds to combat food insecurity and aid food production.

“Without good soil, crops fail, prices rise, and people go hungry. Eroding soil also worsens the impact of droughts, floods, and other climate-driven extreme weather, making crop yields even lower and, as a result, food even scarcer,” he said at the event.

Read also: Kogi, Kwara, Lagos lead states in rising food prices

According to the FAO, Nigeria is expected to see about 26.5 million people in 2024 grapple with high levels of food insecurity.

This is why BusinessDay has researched on ways to manage the biting effect of food inflation that Nigerians are currently combating.

Bulk buying

Due to a lack of funds, many Nigerians cannot afford to purchase their foods in large quantities, however, research by BusinessDay has shown that to manage the rising cost of food better, people should buy their foodstuffs in bulk.

Victoria Abe, who resides in the Gbagada area of Lagos, and works as a risk analyst at a big firm, buys her food in large quantities.

“It pays me to buy my food in large quantities. We (Abe and her husband) look at the seasons of each food produced, and we buy it in bulk,” she said.

Abe added: “With that, we can also buy at a cheaper price despite the high prices in other months,” she said. Bimbo has also started buying her foodstuffs in bulk.

“I realised that bulk buying is way better, so I repaired my fridge to store as much for every month, especially proteins,” she said.

Buying food in bulk will never be old-fashioned. It is not only cost-effective but also time-effective.

Avoid food waste

Nigerians can no longer afford to be food wasters. An FAO report has shown that 285.1 million people in West Africa are moderately and severely food insecure.

The report indicates that more people cannot afford a balanced meal than those who can.

“I’ve had to change the excess in my kitchen menu. I have reduced stew and soup time to twice a week instead of three or four times,” said Abimbola Oreoluwa, who lives with her husband in the Ibeju-Lekki area of Lagos.

For Nornu, a civil engineer who resides in Bariga, buying only what she needs is how she is coping with food inflation.

“I try as much as I can to buy only what I need when I go to the market,” she disclosed.

Read also: High food prices put balanced diet out of reach of Nigerians-Survey

Have a small garden

Cultivating a small garden is therapeutic, experts say. However, beyond its health benefits, it is also a good way to produce food and save costs.

For Mama J, who lives with her children in Lagos, cultivating a small garden at the back of her house has not only been therapeutic but has also spared her from rising food prices.

“Growing fresh vegetables like pumpkin leaves, waterleaf, and the banana and plantain I have in my compound has saved me from buying them in the market where they are expensive,” she told BusinessDay.

Patronise wholesale vendors

Nigeria’s market is full of different vendors who sell the same products. Buying from vendors who sell at cheaper rates is cost-effective.

For Juliet Okoro, this is a measure she has adopted. “Whenever I go to the market, I look for people who sell what I want at cheaper rates. This allows me to buy what I want within my budget,” she said.