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Rising cost of Jollof shows increasing misery among Nigerians

Nigerians spent more for a pot of the much-loved Jollof in the second quarter of 2020, reflecting rising food prices and worsening living conditions.

According to the SBM Intelligence Jollof Index report for Q2 2021, released this morning, the average cost of making a pot of Jollof for the typical Nigerian household rose 6.9 percent to N7, 618 between April and June, from N7, 124 in the first three months of 2021.

“The increased food prices coupled with a high unemployment rate speaks of the growing misery index of Nigerians and declining ability to purchase food,” the report stated.

Read Also: International food prices drop first time in 12 months

SBM Intelligence, an Africa-focused geopolitical research firm, uses Jollof rice, a common delicacy that most Nigerian households enjoy, as a proxy to measure food inflation (prices) across the county.

The commodities that make up the Jollof Index include; rice, curry, thyme, Knorr seasoning groundnut/vegetable oil, turkey/chicken (poultry), beef, seasoning, pepper, tomatoes, salt and onions.

And the data on the most common ingredients used in making Jollof rice are collected from 13 markets on a monthly basis across Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones.

Factors such as insecurity, adverse weather conditions, lack of storage facilities, increased energy tariffs, land border closure policy and the Covid-19 Pandemic has led to a surge in food prices.

Although the country’s food inflation rate has been experiencing a marginal decline, it is still high at 22.28 percent as of May 2021. Recently the World Bank noted that the country’s surging inflation rate has pushed 7 million Nigerians into poverty.

According to the Bank, before inflation started rising steadily, there were 82.9 million poor Nigerians but the number has risen to 90.1 million.

The SBM report also highlighted that most of the households interviewed in the low socioeconomic strata confessed they could no longer afford three square meals but had one whole meal daily supplemented with snacks.

Christiana, a Lagos housewife and entrepreneur said she has opted for two square meals per day, as allowances received can no longer afford her family decent three-meal days.

“Food rationing as a strategy to cope with higher food prices could affect households Healthwise e.g. malnutrition and higher expenditure on food items leaves fewer resources for savings and investment,” Damilola Adewale, a Lagos-based economic analyst said.

Adewale also added that the higher poverty incidence means the government would have to do a lot more in its actions on poverty reduction.

For consumers of the middle socioeconomic class, the effects of rising food prices have led to increased patronage of lower brands, limited substitution possibilities, reduced discretionary income, and lifestyle changes.

In order to combat the rising food prices, the report advised that the government should reverse the unnecessary fixation on domestic food production, and rather prioritise the availability of cheap food, whether domestically produced or imported and providing the support everyone needs to produce or bring in food.

“Additionally, they need to remove the politicising of security and deal with it across the country, but even more specifically in the food-producing areas of the country,” the report added.

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