The average cost of preparing a pot of jollof rice for a Nigerian family of five has risen by 9.73 percent over the past seven months, according to a new Jollof Index report.
The report, titled ‘Remaining within a vicious cycle’ by SBM Intelligence, an Africa-focused geopolitical research and strategic communications consulting firm, show that the cost of preparing a pot of the popular Nigerian delicacy rose to N10,882 in March 2023 from N9,917 in September last year.
According to the report, the upward trend shows that the prices of essential ingredients for jollof rice have increased, placing increased financial pressure on families and potentially reducing their quality of life.
“The period between September and November saw long petrol queues across the country, which led to supply chain disruptions and inadequate supplies of food ingredients,” it said.
It said as the fuel scarcity failed to ease, the prices of items like rice and chicken increased in November as preparations for the end-of-year festivities began, which are often accompanied by increased purchases of food items by corporations and households.
“February saw a slight decline of 0.41 percent in the cost of making a pot of jollof rice, which potentially indicated a temporary stabilisation or a short-term improvement in market conditions.
“However, our interviews with traders and buyers show that there was latent demand following the cash shortage created by the short exchange window given by the government to swap old notes,” it added.
Using the Jollof Index, SBM illustrates how food prices have changed over time. The data gathered monthly from 13 markets spread across Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones is computed using the costs of the ingredients. It does not include December because of seasonal variations that cause price hikes.
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The ingredients that make up the index are rice, groundnut oil, chicken or turkey, beef, seasoning, pepper, tomatoes, salt and onions. While the index has treaded close to food inflation since collection began in 2016, it has provided a simple way of communicating the realities of inflation to the Nigerian public.
The SBM report highlighted that across the 13 markets, Wuse II in Abuja is the most expensive place to make jollof rice at N13, 150, while it is the cheapest in Lagos (Trade Fair) at N8, 850.
“These differences in the cost of making a pot of jollof rice show the diversity of challenges faced by different communities and the importance of monitoring food prices across various regions to ensure that everyone has access to affordable and nutritious meals,” it said.
Data from the National Bureau of Statistics show that Nigeria’s food inflation rate accelerated for the third straight month in March to 24.46 percent, highest in 17 years, from 24.35 percent in the previous month, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Analysts at SBM said Africa’s biggest economy is facing a persistent food insecurity crisis that is continually aggravated by insecurity, poor policies, adverse weather conditions, and international events such as the recent Russia-Ukraine war.
“This alarming situation stems from various factors, including unstable food-producing regions, inadequate storage infrastructure, and a lack of agricultural commercialization.”
Last year, the World Bank said the country’s accelerated inflation rate had eroded the N30, 000 minimum wages by 35.5 percent and widened the poverty net with an estimated five million people.
It said the higher inflation in 2022 is estimated to have pushed an additional five million Nigerians into poverty between January and September 2022, mainly through higher prices of local staples – rice, bread, yam, and wheat, especially in non-rural areas.