Updated: Food prices soar as coronavirus lockdown disrupts supply chain

.. bleak Easter looms

The lockdown ordered by the Federal Government to curtail the spread of the coronavirus, which took effect 11 days ago, is disrupting supply chain, forcing prices of key staples to soar in the country.

From rice to garri and other key food staples, prices have been making rapid climbs in the country since the lockdown began, fuelled by low supplies and panic buying.

Amid rising cases of coronavirus in the country, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered restriction of movement in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun State beginning 11pm on March 30, although take-off date for Ogun was later extended. Many states have followed suit, limiting trans-border movements across the states.
As such, trucks transporting food items from the country’s north where they are grown to the south where the markets are located are becoming scarce, thus fuelling low supplies.

“It is difficult now to convey food items from the north to Lagos since the lockdown and this is why prices are increasing,” said Godwin Akpa, a yam trader at the popular Mile 12 market, the biggest food market in Lagos.

Despite the Federal Government exempting farmers, food processors, distributors, and retailers from the lockdown, owners of trucks conveying food supplies to markets are still afraid to head south. The few that do say they have to bribe security operatives at various checkpoints to gain ease of passage.

“Truck owners are afraid to come to Lagos because of the lockdown. The few that are willing to come are charging us higher fares because they have to bribe security officers at checkpoints,” Akpa said.

BusinessDay survey at Oyinbo Market in Lagos shows that a 50kg bag of local parboiled rice which was sold for N17,500 11 days ago now sells for N19,000, indicating a 9 percent increase in price.

Also, a 50kg bag of foreign parboiled rice which was sold for N22,000 before the lockdown now sells for N27,000, indicating a 23 percentage increase.

A 60kg bag of red garri now sells for N26,000 as against N9,000 sold before the lockdown, indicating a 188 percentage increase, while a paint bucket of red garri now sells for N1,300 as against N700 sold nine days ago.

A 5-litre can of vegetable oil which sold for N2,000 before the lockdown now sells for N2,500, indicating a 25 percentage increase in price.

For spaghetti, a pack now sells for N4,200 as against N4,000 sold 11 days ago, indicating a 5 percentage increase in price.

In Wuse Market in Abuja, a N50kg bag of local parboiled rice now sells for N20,000 as against N18,500 sold before the lockdown, indicating an 8 percent increase.

Similarly, a 60kg bag of garri which was sold for N22,000 before the implementation of the lockdown now sells for N32,000, indicating a 45 percentage increase.

Prices are surging at a time Christians in the country, like their counterparts all over the world, are preparing to celebrate Easter – although this year’s celebration is already muted as a result of the impact of the ravaging coronavirus pandemic.

“We would not be celebrating the Easter as we want to because of the coronavirus pandemic and rising food prices,” Mary Onyesi, a 55-year-old trader and mother of four, told BusinessDay.

Inflation in Africa’s biggest economy accelerated to 12.20 percent in February 2020 driven by food inflation, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show.

Experts say the country’s inflation for March will further accelerate when the figures are released later in the month, owing to the continuous rise in food prices.

Nigeria’s economy has been hard hit by the outbreak of the new coronavirus that triggered a plunged in global crude oil prices. Amid the lockdown, daily wage earners are bearing brunt.

“I and my wife are daily wage earners and since the lockdown, we have not been able to earn any income and prices of food items in the market just keep rising,” said Muyiwa Rahman, a 45-year-old bricklayer who lives in Mushin, Lagos.

“We do not have any savings, and we are yet to get any of the palliatives shared by both the federal and state governments. How then do we survive this lockdown?” he asked.


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