With a few days remaining for Christians all over the world to celebrate this year’s Christmas, the soaring prices of rice and other foodstuff in Nigerian markets are sending fear down the spines of many families.
Rice, Nigeria’s major staple food, is synonymous with Christmas and New Year celebrations owing to the varieties of parties, weddings, traditional marriages, burials and a host of other celebrations that take place during the season.
There is a high probability that jollof rice which is a widely preferred delicacy during Christmas and New Year celebrations may not be affordable by many.
BusinessDay Sunday market survey last Thursday shows that a Derica of rice sells for between N800 and N1,000 from between N500 and N600 in 2022; while a paint bucket sells for between N4,800 and N5,000 from between N3,000 and N3,500
Also, a 50kg bag of rice sells for between N55,000 and N60,000 depending on the type and brand of the rice from between N34,500 and N39,250 sold the previous year.
With the high cost, rice is fast becoming gold to many Nigerians and is now going beyond the affordability of many Nigerians.
Also, report has it that the average cost of preparing a pot of jollof rice for a Nigerian family of five has more than tripled within seven years.
A recent SBM Intelligence report shows that the cost of preparing jollof is soaring in addition to the cost of rice itself.
The report, titled ‘Mountain Climbing’, by SBM Intelligence, an Africa-focus geopolitical research and strategic communications consulting firm, shows that the cost of preparing a pot of the popular Nigerian delicacy rose by 220.7 percent to N13,106 in September 2023 from N4,087 in July 2016.
Meanwhile, prices of other food condiments including tomatoes, onions, and others are going beyond the reach of the poor.
According to 24hoursmarket.com, a daily online food market, a kilo of frozen chicken known as Orobo chicken now goes for N3,300; turkey goes for N5,400; a kilo of croaker fish goes for N3,400; a kilo of Titus fish goes for N3,300 while a kilo of Kote fish goes N2,200.
For those hoping for a plate of rice this yuletide season, buying any of the above-listed proteins to go with their rice will be in addition to considering the high price of rice and other things used in preparing the rice.
The prices of onions, fresh tomatoes and fresh peppers are also unimaginable in the market today. Given the situation, many Nigerian families are now very apprehensive about the skyrocketing food prices in the market.
“Rice is very expensive now. We that are selling it are finding it difficult to get from dealers or even the company because they said that the paddy used in making parboiled rice is scarce globally,” Sunday Rogers said.
Rogers, who sells rice in bags and retails in Ikotun market in Lagos, told BusinessDay Sunday that there is not much profit in the business anymore due to inflation.
“When you tell people that a 50kg bag of rice sells for N55,000, they will scream as if you are making a huge profit from the business. It does not work that way; in most cases, you only make between N1500 and N2,000 profit from selling a bag of rice. This is why I don’t border myself when people refuse to buy from me.
“Imagine going to the company with N1million and you will manage to buy about 20 bags of rice, which in the past will give you close to 50 bags but what can we do? This is the Nigeria we find ourselves today,” he said.
Read also: Jollof cost more than triples in seven years
Anthonia Obi, a Lagos-based businesswoman, told our correspondent on Thursday that the skyrocketing food prices are really telling on her clothing business.
She said her business is seriously going down due to the inability to restock her shop and the high cost of clothing as a result of the high exchange rate of naira to the dollar.
Obi, who sells foreign clothes at Oshodi market, said that business is now extremely difficult and that the money she makes from the business, which she was supposed to reinvest into the business is being used to feed the family.
“To feed in Nigeria today is fast becoming a luxury. When I calculate what we spend on feeding alone these days, you will be surprised. As I speak with you, I don’t even know how we are going to cope this Christmas because the little rice we have will not reach the festive period,” said the mother of three.
Meanwhile, the case of Iyabo Bamidele is not different from the rest as she said her family of four will only manage to buy rice in Derica this Christmas and cook it as God gives them grace.
She said that high prices of things including food prices are now synonymous with the Nigerian market.
“There is nothing that you buy today that will be the same price tomorrow. Look at onions, four sizable onions are sold for N500 in the market today.
“Is it tomatoes? For two to three months now, I have been using alternatives such as tomato paste mixed with pepper and enough onions to supplement for not being able to buy costly fresh tomatoes,” she lamented.
Read also: Cost of jollof surges 34% in one year
According to her, November and December are usually the times when beans are cheap, but a half bag of beans sells for over N24,000 in the market today which means that a bag of 50kg of beans will be around N48,000 to N50,000.
Bamidele said there is really no hope in sight that food prices will drop in months to come as the prices of transportation have continued to go up due to increased pump prices of petrol and diesel.