Monday, November 28, 2022

Soaring food prices worry traders, consumers as yuletide draws nearer

Across Nigeria, there’s been an increase in the prices of foodstuffs as Christmas approaches.

• November 15, 2022
Food Items at Utako Market, Abuja (Credit: Ahmed Oluwasanjo)
Food Items at Utako Market, Abuja (Credit: Ahmed Oluwasanjo)

Barely six weeks to the yuletide, prices of some foodstuffs, particularly rice, garri, palm oil and crayfish, have soared in major markets in the South-East.

In Enugu State, 50kg of local rice is now between N34,000 and N42,000, as against between N24,000 and N36,000 sold in October, while 50kg of foreign rice goes for N54,000 as against N37,000 sold a month ago.

A visit to some markets in the state capital showed that a 4.5-litre paint bucket of local rice sold for N2,600 in September now goes for between N2,800 and N3,500.

A rice dealer at Ogbete Market, Onyinye Emejue, said the price of rice had remained high for some time, blaming it on the high cost of transportation and other farm inputs involved in rice farming.

Chinwe Okoh, a palm oil seller at New Market, said the cost of transportation and off-season of most agricultural produce had been the reason for the high price of most foodstuffs in the city.

She said five litres per gallon now goes for N6,000 as against N3,250 in September, while a 70cl bottle of the product goes for between N900 and N1,000 as against N650.

At the New Market, Uche Ogbodo, a crayfish dealer, said the price of crayfish had soared compared to what it was some months back, blaming the high cost of the product on the flood that ravaged most of the areas that produced it.

Helen Obi, another crayfish seller at Kenyatta Market, said a painter of crayfish now sold for N3,800 against N2,800.

Joy Aku, a dealer in vegetable oil at Garki Market, said the five litres of the product had increased from N7,000 to N8,500, while the 20 litres go for between N28,500 and N32,000 depending on its brand.

Rose Onyeabor, an onion seller at the New Garki Market, said a bag of onions is sold at N52,000 against N48,500.

At the Relief Market, Eke Onunwa and New Markets in Imo, a 50-kilogram bag of foreign rice is currently sold between N50,000 and N53,000, depending on the brand, and N45,000 for locally grown rice.

Tomatoes and onions have also maintained the prices they sold for in October, with a small basket of onions increasing from N3000 to N3500.

Fresh tomatoes still go for N3,000 for a small bucket popularly known as “custard ”, while quantities previously sold for N700 now go for N1500.

Idris Lawal, who sells both commodities and local spices, said the increased cost was due to heavy flooding, which damaged farms and other property.

The price of large yam tubers also increased with tubers, which were sold at N1,200, now going for N2000, while smaller tubers are now sold from N1000 to N1,200.

A yam seller, Regina Umam, blamed the high cost on floods and increased cost of transportation.

According to Bernadette Nwachukwu, a bag of garri is sold at N22,000 while a bucket of yellow garri, which was previously sold at N700, now sells for N1,100 naira, while white garri is sold at N900.

The price of crayfish also slightly increased, with a big bag now selling for N95,000, half a bag at N49,000 and a quarter bag going for N24,500.

In Ebonyi, Grace Anikwe, a customer at Abakaliki Rice Mill, said she bought a 25kg bag of rice for N20,000 as against between N14,500 and NI7,500, sold in October, depending on the brand.

Christian Nweke, a customer, also expressed concern that a painter of garri, which was sold between N700 and N900 in September, now goes for about N1,100 and N1,250, depending on the brand. 

Mr Nweke said a basin of white garri sells between N10,000 and N11,500, while the yellow one is sold for N12,500 and N13,500, respectively.

Ogechi Nweke, a meat seller, said a kilo of beef sells between N3,000 and N3, 500 as against N2,800 sold in October due to increased transportation costs.

In Onitsha, the commercial city of Anambra, traders have continued to lament and blame the current low sales on the rising cost of food items as Christmas celebrations draw near. 

A trader in the Ose-Okwodu Market, Ngozi Chidi, blamed the current food items hike on the flood situation experienced in some parts of the country.

Another trader, who deals in rice and spices at the same market, Christy Chiemerie, revealed that 50 kilograms of local rice used to be N28,000 but is now N45,000 and N48,000, respectively. 

Ms Chiemerie noted that a carton of Maggi/knorr cubes formerly sold for N11,000 is now N12,000.

Peace Awurika, who sells salt at the popular Relief Market in Onitsha, also lamented poor sales, saying that a bag of salt had jumped from N3,500 to N4,000.

In Abia, Onyebuchi Okiyi, a trader at the popular Orie Ugba Market, said it had not been easy for everyone, irrespective of one’s status.

“I used to buy between 15 and 20 bags of rice, but now, I can only manage to buy 10 bags because a 50kg bag of made in Nigeria rice is now sold between N40,000 and N42,000 as against 28,000 and N30,000 sold about two months ago, while the foreign one is N50,000.”

Another trader in the market, Uchechi Nwokolo, said the biting inflation might have been affected by the high exchange rate and high cost of transportation.

Ngozi Kanu, a fresh tomato seller, said that a basket of tomatoes, which was sold for N25,000 as of October, is now sold for N30,000, while a 4.5litre bucket of tomato is sold at N2,500, blaming the high cost on transportation.

Ezenwa Nwabuisi, an onion seller, said that a bag of onions was sold between N53,000 and N56,000, but as at last week, one could buy a bag of onions for N48,000.


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