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Food prices in Nigeria rise to highest in 12yrs

It now costs Nigerians twice the average amount spent on food five years ago to purchase the same today.

That’s after food prices rose to the highest level in more than 12 years, according to inflation data published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Tuesday.

Food inflation which measures the rate of increase in food prices, quickened by over 150 basis points to 20.57 percent in January from 19.56 percent in December, according to data published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

That’s the highest on record since the state-funded NBS started tracking the data, and the 17th consecutive month of increase since the failed border policy was enacted.

Nigerians have seen price increases in virtually all food items, particularly in oil and fats, fish, potatoes, yam and other tubers, fruits, meat, vegetables, and bread and cereals.

“This is one of the worst food price crises in Nigeria’s history,” said Omotola Abimbola, senior associate, investment research, ‎Chapel Hill Denham.

“To say the least, the abrupt increase in the food inflation was partly self-inflicted,” Abimbola said in a tweet.

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While the prices of items other than food (core inflation) have headed north, the continuous increase in food prices has continued to be the main driver of Nigeria’s inflation.

With food prices at a record high, Nigeria’s headline inflation quickened to a 34-month high at 16.47 percent in January from 15.75 in the previous month. Core inflation stood at 11.85 percent from 11.37 percent in December.

For the average consumer, the story reflects a gloomy picture of what they face in terms of elevated inflationary pressure in the country, according to Gbolanhan Ologunro, an economist at Cordros Capital Limited.

“The fact that income levels have also not grown in line with the increase we see in inflation and that is why the poverty index has also trended higher,” Ologunro said.

According to him, consumer’s income is expected to remain largely skewed to the consumption of food items. “In which case, it limits their ability to save and make investments required to make improvements in their wealth levels,” he added.

At the build-up of the closure, while the government continued to sing praises, claiming the closure had pushed up local production, available data appeared otherwise.

Data show that Nigeria’s food imports surged to a five-year high in the first nine months of 2020, with food imports accounting for most. A total of N1.2 trillion food products were imported into the country from January through September in 2020, indicating a 65-per cent rise when compared with N726 billion in the corresponding period of 2019.

The government may have ordered the opening of the land borders but the pains of the one year of its closure will surely leave an indelible mark in the lives of Nigerians who are faced with a huge plunge in income caused by the pandemic, and the second recession in barely five years.

Nigeria’s second-largest contributing sector to GDP, has also continued to wallow in recession, made worse by the border closure.

With lingering issues of insecurity yet unsolved, there appears no respite for food prices

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