BusinessDay

Celebrating Easter amidst hike in food prices

For most Nigerians, festive periods and holidays come with huge excitement. While it is difficult not to have fun in the midst of friends, peers, family members, with careful planning, the reverse would be the same.

As Easter celebration comes in, consumers are not very enthusiastic about the celebration because food items have suddenly gone up, however, these items must be purchased.

In Lagos, many consumers have complained over the rise in food prices, which has prevented them from purchasing items of their choice. Nigeria’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) has increased by 0.5 percent to 9.5 percent in February 2013.

Figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) indicate that relative to January’s figure of 9 percent, the rise in the headline index could be attributed to increases in farm produce prices, owing to limited supplies.

For the period under review, the composite food index increased by 11 percent to 143.3 points, higher than the 10.1 percent recorded in January 2013. Higher prices were observed across all classes in the food sub-index, with the fastest rising prices observed in vegetables, fish, bread and cereals, meat, poultry and dairy products.

Items less farm produce or core index, which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural products, increased by 11.2 percent, slightly lower than 11.3 percent recorded in January 2013 with the largest contributors to the increase in the core index been rental prices, prices of motor cars, books, and kerosene.

A survey around Lagos metropolis shows that prices of commodities have tripled than what they sold earlier in 2013. A food vendor, who chose to be anonymous, says things price of garri, which is regarded as a common staple food among low- income earners, has jumped to between N280 and N300 for a brand, while another brand now sells for between N200 and N230. Yam flour now goes for between N750 and N800, while those mixed with cassava sells between N500 and N600.

“Foodstuffs have now become very expensive; they are even three times the prices they were in the early part of the year.

“The hike in cost of foodstuff, according to some traders, is attributed to the insecurity in the North” says Christopher, also a food vendor, attributing it to the flooding in most of the northern states.

“Most of these foodstuffs come in from the North and we all heard of the havoc the rains have caused in these states, especially Sokoto and Jigawa states. Most of the farmlands have been washed away, so those that could save some crops would definitely increase the price to make up for their investment,” he says.

“The same thing applies to yam. For instance, I used to buy a wheelbarrow of yams for N5,000 in the earlier part of the year, but now it has gone up to around N18,000. Rice is easier to get, the price increase is not very much,” according to the first food vendor.

Traders complain bitterly that the high cost of foodstuffs is as a result of the prevailing security challenges facing some part of the Northern states.

According to them, the situation has prevented many of them to travel to states like Borno and Yobe, as well as Chad and Niger republics, where most of the commodities are available to be purchased.

Also, the price of groundnut oil, which sold for N5,800 early this year, now goes for N6,850. Also, a bag of rice that went for N7,400 now sells at N8,000.

Across the country, for instance, the price hike is the same, a measure of local maize, which was sold at N80 before, is now N120, while the price of garri has jumped from N120 to N180 a measure.

However, some traders express hope that with the coming of new yam and other tubers, people would have substitutes and eventually, it would bring the price of foodstuffs down.

A yam seller, popularly called Chukudi, also says food items ought to be cheap by this time, contrary to what is happening now.

“You know the country is no longer the same. Where do you get yam to buy? You have to go to the North, but today North is not safe for us. So, the yam you see here must be costly. It is not our fault,” she says.

According to her, the economic situation of the country is so unbearable that, “we don’t even know what is going on in the country again. Everything is so high and the queue in filling stations is nothing to write home about. I am confused. I don’t know what is going on.”

Also, some of the foodstuff sellers generally confirm that the crisis in some parts of the North is affecting their business, as some of them are afraid of travelling to the North to buy these commodities.

 

ANNE AGBAJE

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