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Christmas jollof more expensive as inflation pinches wallets

Cost of jollof rice surge 10% in seven months – Report

Nigerians will spend more on jollof rice this Christmas as December inflation is projected to surpass the new 18-year high of 28.2 percent recorded last month.

Data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Friday show that the food inflation rate quickened to 32.84 percent in November from 31.52 percent in the previous month.

The cost of a pot of jollof rice for a family of five rose by 220.7 percent to N13,106 in September from N4,087 percent in July 2016, according to data from the latest Jollof Index report.

In a country where the minimum wage is N30,000 (below $300 per month), the ballooning costs of food prices have forced many Nigerians to slash Christmas spending as high fuel and food prices pressure their budgets.

“We normally buy half a bag of rice for the yuletide season, but this year we will be buying a quarter,” said Uchemmadu Okongwu, a banker.

“It is even difficult to kill chicken now, and rice is now gold at almost N70,000 for a 50kg bag. It is survival now and not merriment because the poor cannot afford it,” Okongwu said.

Read also: 5 reasons you may be stuck with ‘swallow’ this Christmas

He said that while some organisations are increasing staff salaries, given the inflation-induced high cost of living, many small businesses, employees of private firms and even civil servants are yet to do so, leaving employees struggling daily as their real disposable incomes have declined.

Pay is failing to keep pace with inflation in Africa’s biggest economy, with civil servants and low-income households most hit by the squeeze. This is amplifying a cost-of-living crisis that is causing a decline in living standards which is hurting physical and mental health and exacerbating existing conditions, according to experts.

NBS data shows that the country’s inflation rate rose for the 11th straight month in November.

BusinessDay surveyed food prices in 10 markets across Lagos to compute the costs of ingredients for a standard Christmas jollof rice and compared them with those of 2022.

BusinessDay surveys at Iddo, Oyingbo, Mile 12, Ketu, Ikeja, Ogba, Bariga, Jakande-Lekki, Ajah, and Mushin markets in Lagos show that a 50kg bag of local parboiled rice was sold for an average of N60,000, up from an average of N34,500 a year ago, indicating a 65 percent increase in price.

Read also: Jollof quest: Top 5 places to eat Jollof rice in Lagos

The price of a 50kg bag of foreign parboiled rice rose by 65.6 percent to N65,000 from N39,250 in December 2022.

The average price of a 10kg carton of frozen chicken increased by 36.1 percent to N32,000 from N23,500 in December last year, while a kilo goes for N3,400 as against N2,400 in the same period last year.

The price of a 1kg carton of frozen turkey jumped by 66.6 percent to N5,000 from N3,000 a year ago, while that of a 25-litre keg of vegetable oil increased to N42,000 from N35,000.

A big basket of fresh tomatoes sells for N41,000 as against N16,000 last year, while a small basket sells for N18,000.

The World Bank, in its latest Nigeria Development Update report, said sluggish growth and rising inflation in Africa’s biggest economy have pushed an additional 24 million Nigerians into poverty within five years.

It said the poverty rate has risen to 46 percent in 2023 from 40 percent in 2018, with the number of poor Nigerians put at 104 million.

Read also: Jollof cost more than triples in seven years

Recently, the World Bank said the country’s accelerated inflation growth has eroded the N30,000 minimum wage by 55 percent, widening the poverty net with an estimated five million people in 2022.