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Rising food price and wellbeing of Nigerians

The welfare of Nigerians is deteriorating every day due to rising prices, especially that of food items in the market.

An increase in food prices has been in existence even before COVID-19, which may be attributed to the level of insecurity experienced in the North, pronounced conflicts between farmers and herders within the country, the closure of Nigeria’s land borders by the government, among others.

During COVID-19, however, the limitations encountered during the production process put more pressure on the prices of goods.

An observation of the price of some commodities from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data set shows that the average cost of 1kg local rice year-on-year increased by 4.95 percent and month-on-month 0.01 percent increase. Likewise, the average price of 1kg tomatoes increased year-on-year by 19.28 percent, while a 1kg of white Garri, the popular poor man food, experienced a year-on-year 27.91 percent increase.

Furthermore, Akandu Godwin, the Rivers State chairman of Nigerian Rice Producers Association, complained about the lack of mechanised equipment like caterpillars and bulldozers needed for cultivation by rice farmers, which made rice production difficult. He warned the government against the neglect of rice farmers in the state.

Read Also: Rising food prices threaten Nigeria’s economic recovery -IMF

A World Bank report shows that most Nigerians cannot afford three square meals nor have one time or the other skipped a meal during the day. The report shows that between July and September 2018, 43.3 percent of adults missed at least one meal, 39.3 percent ran out of food, while 13.5 percent went the whole day without food. A decline was experienced between January and February in 2019.

The percentage of adults who skipped food, ran out of food and went the whole day without food in Nigeria were 27.3 percent, 25.1 percent, and 6.4 percent, respectively. These were the period before the COVD-19.

However, by November 2020, 56.1 percent of households skipped at least one meal, 48.0 percent ran out of food, and 18.3 percent went the whole day without eating. The increase in these percentages may be attributed to the economic effect of the pandemic on the country.

The inability of people to eat well and quality food also have a great impact on their physical and mental health as well as causing malnutrition and stunted growth in children.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the inflation rate for October 2021 is 15.99 percent year-on-year, which is 1.76 percent more than the 14.23 percent recorded in October 2020.

The expert also noted a high probability that food prices will double by the end of 2021. This implies that the purchasing power of people will reduce, which may also be attributed to the fall in per capita GDP.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased by 1.87 year-on-year in the first quarter of 2020 despite the global disruption experienced from COVID-19, the fall in oil prices, and the barriers to international trade. The real GDP of Nigeria, which was expected to grow by 2.1 percent, was -6.1 percent and -3.6 percent respectively in the 2nd and 3rd quarter of the year but increased in the last quarter of 2020 by 0.01 percent.

Since 2015, the per capita Gross Domestic Capita growth rate has been negative. The growth rate in Nigeria’s GDP per capita are -0.03 in 2015, -4.17 in 2016, -1.79 in 2017, -0.68 in 2018, -0.38 in 2019 and -4.26 in 2020

In a bid to mitigate the rising effect of poverty among the people, the Federal Government disbursed a cash transfer of N58 billion in the past two months. The national coordinator of Home Improvement Programme Conditional Cash Transfer, Halima Shehu, in a statement during the two days sensitisation training programme for the beneficiaries said that the program was meant to support development goals to enhance household consumption. Shehu explained that this program was founded with the slogan “Beta don come” to help the lower class.

However, Nigeria, with over 200 million as of 2021, still has over 40% of its entire population living below the poverty line. The report further shows that more than 4 out of 10 people in Nigeria live below the national poverty line. Millions more just live above the poverty line, thus making them susceptible to falling back into poverty due to the shock experienced from the pandemic. The World Bank report in 2020 shows an expectation of a future rise in extreme poverty in Nigeria by about 15 to 20 million Nigerians moving into poverty. There is a high level of poverty experienced, especially among rural dwellers and specifically women.

COVID-19 has added around 88 million to 115 million people to the list of impoverished people. World Bank estimates show that 97 million people moved into poverty as a result of the pandemic.

This implies that the government must put in place adequate measures and programs to curtail the economic effect of the pandemic on Nigerians, as it is evident that the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on the welfare of the citizens.

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