Yam tuber, maize, beans, and plantain are some of the food items that gulped the most incomes of Nigerians in 2021 as they recorded the highest increase in prices, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.
Yam tubers rose the most with a 59.9 percent increase on the average last year while white maize, brown maize, mudfish, white beans, and unripe plantain jumped 57.7 percent, 55.5 percent, 40.9 percent, 39 percent and 30.6 percent respectively.
The rising food prices only put more burden on Nigeria’s poor population already struggling with stagnant income and deteriorating standard of living, according to experts.
According to the 2019 survey NBS, the total household expenditure in Nigeria is N40 trillion out of which N22.7 trillion is spent on food alone.
A 2021 report by the Institute of Development Studies has revealed that food consumes about 101 percent of the average wages of Nigerians and the country ranks second globally where citizens spend almost all their income on food.
“Nigeria’s middle-class is increasingly disappearing. If you juxtapose the sustained drive in the prices of food and other commodities with stagnant income or most cases disappearance in income, you will see that the standard of living of many Nigerians has deteriorated,” said Ayorinde Akinloye, a research analyst at United Capital Plc.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, 40 percent of Nigeria’s total population, or almost 83 million people, live below the country’s poverty line of N137,430 ($381.75) per year.
The pandemic also has pushed an additional 11 million Nigerians into poverty, according to the World Bank.
The Bank also revealed that inflation has pushed 8 million more Nigerians into poverty between 2020 and 2021.
Nigeria’s headline inflation which has been on the decline for eight months saw a sudden spike in December 2021 to 15.63 percent from 15.40 in November 2021 on the back of increased demand during the festive period.
“The rise in food inflation came on the back of huge demand during the festive season and insecurity in the food-producing areas as 15 states recorded higher food inflation rates in December 2021,” said Ayodeji Ebo, Head, Retail Investment, Chapel Hill Denham.
Plateau, Nasarawa and Benue are some of the worst-hit states by the herder-farmer crisis.
Femi Oke, chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigerian (AFAN) Lagos State chapter, explained that the major reason for the increase in the price of food is insecurity.
He explained that most of the farmers hardly go to the farm anymore because of these herdsmen and bandits’ issues.
In the first monetary policy committee meeting of the year, the Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele stated the surge in food prices is as a result of logistics problems particularly transport as there is a wide disparity between the low prices at the Farmgate and high prices at the marketplace.
In December 2021 specifically, white beans, brown beans, yam tuber, palm oil and vegetable oil were also the food items that accounted for the highest increase in food inflation, the same items when the average for the year was taken.
Muda Yusuf, the immediate past director-general of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said although the Government has been doing a lot especially around CBN financing for agriculture, the rise in food prices signals that more has to be done.
“We need to deal with the entire value chain, the issues of insecurity and transportation are crucial issues which need to be urgently addressed,” Yusuf pointed out.
The Global Hunger Index report ranks Nigeria 103rd of 116 countries with the hungriest people, indicating that hunger is severe in the country and may become alarming if nothing is done about this urgently.