• Friday, July 12, 2024
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BusinessDay

Nigerian housewives turn ‘mathematicians’ in kitchen as food crisis hits households

Taming the food crisis: Governors need to do more

…Say, ‘We now constantly plot on how to deploy scarce resources’

… ‘Our families no longer eat what our body needs, but what we can afford’

Many Nigerian housewives have turned emergency mathematicians as they try daily to figure out how to deploy the scarce resources available to them to feed their families.

As prices of staple food items continue to change on daily basis, the housewives suffer migraine while trying to put food on the family table.

Not only do they apply maths in deploying their meagre resources, they also go a lot of stress deciding how to ration cooked food to go round the waiting mouths.

Investigations by BusinessDay revealed that no amount of money is huge enough to provide quality food for a household these days. The inconsistencies in food prices have put intense stress on housewives.

Families have also cried out over the worsening food crisis in the country, saying that it is so bad now that they can no longer eat what their bodies require to function optimally, but only what they can afford.

Last year, a report had it that about 63 percent of persons living within the country (133 million people) were multidimensionally poor. While 65 percent of the poor (86 million people) live in the North, 35 percent (47 million) live in the South.

Read also: Nigeria’s food crisis demands bold action

The indicators used in arriving at the categorisation included: Child mortality, nutrition, years of schooling, school attendance, cooking fuel, sanitation, drinking water, electricity, housing and assets.

Following the removal of subsidy on petrol and the floating of the Naira, two important policies by the Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration to help the economy, the effects in the immediate have been telling on the masses of Nigeria.

The policies have resulted in high cost of food items, to the extent that it has affected the feeding pattern in many homes, with its negative consequences on health.

Our correspondents, who spoke with some households in some states, report that good feeding has become unaffordable, as families now eat for the sake of eating and not for nutritive values of the food they eat.

Cordelia Okon, a housewife, told BusinessDay Sunday that she has suddenly developed gray hair as a result of huge stress impacted on her by the economic crisis in the country.

“I used to work in a good place until the company had a serious crisis and had to close down. Unfortunately, my husband’s business is no longer doing well unlike before; so, feeding these days is a big deal in the family. I spend more time these days planning on how to go to the market than I spend cooking the whatever I buy. Do you know why? Before I go to the market today, I do a lot of calculations, even to buy things as simple as pepper, onions, tomatoes. It is crazy you know! It is even worse that what you bought with say, N5,000 yesterday, by the time you go back to buy the same thing today, it has doubled; haba! To confess to you, I am under serious pressure and distress,” Okon said.

She also said that her greatest pain is that despite the huge amount spent on food items, the family is not getting the needed quality and quantity of food that their systems require to function optimally.

“Yes, we spend a lot of money these days on food items, but we are not feeding well. We now concentrate on the staples, no money for proteins, vitamins and other minerals that the body seriously need. So, you find out that at the end of the day, we are not feeding well. This is a concern to me,” she said.

Tina Ahirim, a subsistence farmer, in an interview, told BusinessDsy Sunday, said: “Our feeding pattern has been affected by the nation’s worsening economy. What we used to buy with N100 we now buy with N500. We don’t eat what we want. It is what you see that you eat. It is all about what your money can buy for you. We don’t eat by choice at all.

“In fact, you can eat your morning food around 2pm and that could just take you to bed. No dinner. You sleep with empty stomach. I have five children and some of them are in higher institution. They are crying for money for so many needs including their textbooks, etc. Textbooks they used to buy N2,000 before, is now N4,000, N5,000.”

Calling on the Federal Government to assist by releasing some grants, Ahirim said that would relieve the pains of many Nigerians as it would enable them have money to do business.

“Whether we skip meals or not, what we need now is for the economy to favour us. We have applied for so many grants. The grants are not coming,” she said.

She further said: “Now, kidnappers are on rampage. Farmers are no more going to farm. If the security is okay and government grants us the money, we go into farming. That way, the economy would be a little bit better for us.

“We are not even thinking of fabrics now – we are thinking of going into fulltime farming; but when you apply for loan, they won’t give you. Those at the top would hijack everything.

“The economy is not smiling and we are not smiling. We are dying! I want to go into farming but the money is not there. I’m a farmer, just farming locally because funds have not been given to me to make it big. At the grassroots level, I have a Cucumber Farm and trying to go into mushroom farming but the finance is not there.”

Chinasa Abel, a mother of five children, lamented that the worsening economic situation has been biting terribly in her family as they can barely feed.

“To even see once a day food and eat is a problem. I’m a nursing mother and the situation makes me not to eat the kind of food my body needs to breastfeed my baby.

“We deal on provisions but robbers burgled our shop months ago and emptied it. Since then, we’ve been living from hand to mouth. My four children who are between the ages of three and 10 have dropped out of primary school because we can barely feed them let alone paying their school fees. They were all driven out of school by their schools’ authorities,” she said.

Aliyu Yusuf, a fashion designer married with three kids, said: “The current situation is so terrible. There is no patronage as usual because people struggle to eat first. Base on this, we tailors are less busy and the little amount of money I generate these days goes to feeding my family.

“The food we eat ‘gets as it be’ but we just have to manage. May Allah continue to ease our affairs. Government should please rescue us from this crisis.”

Ronke Ibrahim, a civil servant and a mother of four, said: “In fact, the bad economic situation is worsening day by day. My husband does provide weekly stipend for food which has never been enough; I do add money to whatever he gives to last for the days.

“Once we take breakfast, the launch at times may be skipped. Even to buy garri for my children – N1000- will not be okay because a milk cup of garri is N150, not to talk of sugar and kulli kulli or groundnut.

“Now, when I prepare rice or spaghetti for the family in the morning; I do make pap or kunu for launch for the children when they return from school.

“Managing home was not an easy task before, not to talk of now that housewives are facing hell. My husband used to buy half bag of grains for our consumption but he can’t afford that again. We are now buying paint container of rice, beans, Soghum, garri and others. We plead with God to forgive us and touch our leaders’ heart.”

Ndidi Michael, a civil servant and widow said: “It has not been easy with me taking care of three children; it is only by the grace of God we are surviving.

“N1000 garri, cups of rice and expensive pepper for stew are what I am struggling to manage with my children. We hardly eat three times a day.”

Aminatu Rahman, a full housewife, said: “It is not easy at all. To eat now becomes something else. I do cover up launch for the children. If I prepare breakfast for them, my children now eat biscuits or food remnant in the morning when they come back from school.

“My family eats twice in a day – morning and evening. I do give my children money to buy biscuits or roasted corn to eat with water and before you know it, it is almost evening. As we speak now, we don’t have enough food at home and this may push us to take garri as dinner.”

For Haruna Faith, a civil servant and a part time trader, she said her family now eats small, small quantity and drink plenty water while eating.

Read also: The Nigerian food crisis may last longer

“My kids are very small and I can’t bear to see them go hungry. So, what we now do to meet up is that they eat small quantity for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I also make sure I boil beans even if it is two cups every two or three days, and they will soak garri and eat it like that.

“Talking about breakfast, taking tea is whenever it rained heavily so that we take something that will keep us warm. Now, milk and other beverages are out of poor man’s reach. To prepare breakfast for a family of six you know it’s not easy. But what can we do since those that said they are our leaders seem to be happy seeing us dying of hunger every day. They are busy buying cars and houses, changing their wardrobes, while those living close to them can’t afford three square meals a day.”

For Aisha Salamatu, a trader, she said she usually give her children money in the morning to buy snacks and then prepares lunch for the whole family of eight before going to market.

“We have seen it all; we were blaming Goodluck Jonathan, now our leaders have held us by our necks and hit our heads on the rock. Some Nigerians you see on the road today are walking corpses; they can drop dead any minute because of hunger and deprivation.

“How can one not be a walking corpse when one can hardly feed well not to talk of feeding one’s children? The price of food stuff is not something to talk about; transport fare is there waiting for you; house rent, school fees, hospital bills- all pointing finger to meagre amount of money. In short, you people should tell Tinubu our president that we are saying well done to him; that very soon, when families are dying he will rule an empty land,” she said.