BusinessDay

Jollof leaves bitter taste as prices surge 22%

Nigerians are now adopting survival strategies as the cost of preparing a pot of Jollof rice – a popular Nigerian delicacy has increased by 22.2 percent in one year, the latest Jollof Index report shows.

BusinessDay analysis of the report published by SBM Intelligence – an Africa focused geopolitical research and strategic communications consulting firm, shows that the cost for a family of five went up year-on-year by 22.2 percent to average N9,311 in Q2 2022 ( April-June) from an average of N7,618 in the same period of last year. And on a quarter-on-quarter basis, it also rose by 8.3 percent.

Inflation has risen by an annual rate of 18.6 percent, shrinking consumer wallets still recovering from COVID-19 shocks.

The report attributed the continued increase to fuel scarcity, continued foreign exchange restrictions, increased insecurity and the effect of global events, especially the Russia-Ukraine war.

“The national average shows that prices continued to rise up till June. Prices of seasoning, curry, pepper, vegetable oil, turkey and onions increased in most markets,” the report stated.

In terms of places, it costs the most to make a pot of jollof rice in Bauchi, at N11, 600, while Bayside Mbakpa in Calabar accounts for the lowest cost at N6, 920.

The SBM Jollof Index is a composite index that tracks how much it costs to make a pot of Jollof rice across 13 markets in nine states in the six geopolitical zones for a family of five or six, the average rural and urban family size in Nigeria.

The commodities that makes-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 report also revealed that Nigerians are devising several coping strategies to deal with the constant increases in food prices depending on the household’s previous economic status, as the gap between the poor and the rich widens.

One of the respondents, a 50-year-old restaurant owner, explained that she supplements her inability to buy enough proteins with flavours.

“Nobody plays with chicken or turkey these days, so you have to buy plenty of flavours, depending on what fits your food, whether goat meat flavour, chicken flavour, masala curry and all that stuff, they cover up for the taste.”

Read also: Nigerians voice frustrations over cost of living crisis

Another one spoke of how she complements her cooking with different flavours to cover the absence of protein sources like meat and chicken.

“The result is that more people are slipping below the poverty line. Not only that, many are compromising their health as they choose food quantity and availability over quality and necessary dietary requirements,” the report noted.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, food inflation (prices), rose year-on-year by 20.6 percent in June 2022, the highest in 11 months, when compared to 19.5 percent in the previous month.

The World Bank predicts that the country’s inflation is likely to push an additional one million Nigerians into poverty by the end of 2022, on top of the six million Nigerians that were already predicted to fall into poverty this year.

In another interview conducted in 10 states across the country such as Abuja, Anambra, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Imo, Kogi, Lagos, Rivers and Sokoto, SBM noticed that the present economic condition has affected the diet of children, as most of them are now showing signs of malnourishment.

One of the interviewees, a teacher in Port Harcourt said that she observed that her students have been coming to school with reduced rations of food and snacks.

“Some don’t even come with food or snacks at times, and the food that some of the poorer children bring to school does not look nutritious.”

She noted that the poor kids she teaches have been losing weight lately.

A staff member of the state university in Edo said that he currently has challenges feeding his family as he has not been paid for seven months.

According to him, some of his colleagues are suffering the same fate. “So why will you not see children with malnutrition when there is no sufficient money for a balanced diet?” he asked.

To combat the rising food prices, the report recommends that it is important that the federal government tackles insecurity while also boosting domestic food production.

“The government needs to assist states that are rich in producing certain major agricultural products. All concerned actors should ease the supply chain to avoid unnecessary bottlenecks involved in the distribution and supply of some food items.”

“Agencies in charge should also check price control and hoarding to ensure that producers, wholesalers and retailers do not exploit the masses in the name of food shortage,” it concluded.

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