• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Nigerians groan over surging food prices

For the past year, it has been hellish for consumers as food prices continue to rise rapidly, showing no sign of decline.

Households are now prioritising spending and skipping meals amid shrinking income. In April, food inflation, a major driver of headline inflation, increased to 40.5 percent as food prices continued their relentless rise.

A 2024 World Food Programme report attributed the surging food prices to the ongoing conflict in key growing states, the high cost of inputs and transportation, and the high reliance on market purchases as staple production is below average.

According to experts, until the insecurity crisis that is deterring farmers from going to their farms is settled, food insecurity will continue to be a problem for a nation with surplus arable land.

A local fruit seller in the Kosofe local government area of Lagos who identifies simply as Usman told BusinessDay that prices of carrots, a vegetable that could be used as a substitute for tomatoes, have surged to N100,000 for a basket from N7,000.

However, carrots are not the only food item that has experienced a triple rise in price.

A BusinessDay survey across major markets shows that the average price of a 50kg bag of yellow garri has surged from an average of N18,000 in May 2023 to N60,000 in May 2024, while a paint now costs N4,000 from N3,000.

The price of a big basket of fresh tomatoes, the most consumed vegetable in the country, has surged by 200 percent. A big basket of tomatoes now sells for N120,000 as against N40,000 sold last year in the Mile 12 market of Lagos.

Read also: Nigeria’s food import hits 5-year high

This unprecedented jump in food items has made Nigerians take to social media platform X (formerly Twitter) to express their plights and fears.

SisiYemmie with X handle @Sisi_Yemmie in a tweet said, “I don’t know how people are not panicking because of this food inflation because I’m low-key panicking.”

Another user Ayin Ibibio with X handle @asunwa said, “I’m panicking. I’ve been panicking. But what can I do? I cannot generate health problems from panicking because of inflation,” she lamented.

A combined report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation and World Food Programme titled, ‘Hunger hotspots – FAO-WFP early warnings on acute food insecurity’, reveals that Nigeria is among the 18 countries globally that are at risk of suffering acute food hunger from June to October 2024.

Similarly, the International Rescue Committee, said in May that 32 million Nigerians will face acute hunger in the lean season of 2024 between June and August, urging the federal government to proffer sustainable solutions.

Nigeria, with over 200 million population, is the largest nation in Western Africa, yet, around 84 million Nigerians, representing about 37 percent of the total population, live below the poverty line.

“My monthly food budget can no longer buy the food items I used to buy before. It’s so saddening the way food prices are rising,” Iyilewa Olawale, an accountant in Lagos, said.

The cries of SisiYemmie, Ibibio and Olawale mirror the plight of Nigerians all over the country, who now live in fear over the rising surge of food prices.

BusinessDay recalls that a focus of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration, as stated on the economic reform list, was to tackle the food insecurity plaguing the country.

However, almost a year after a state of insecurity was declared in the sector in July 2023, Nigerians cannot afford a balanced diet meal without paying through their noses.

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