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With the alarming rise in food prices, Nigerians are doubtful if they will be able to afford three square meals in the coming months.
President Muhammadu Buhari in his recent Sallah message, said the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the economy of Nigeria, in addition to the fact that floods have caused large scale destruction to agricultural farmlands, thereby impacting negatively on the efforts to boost local production in line with the policy to drastically reduce food importation. This, he explained, has led to food inflation which the government is working hard to address.
“No government in our recent history has invested as heavily as we are doing to promote local production of about 20 other commodities, through the provision of loans and several other forms of support to our farmers,” Buhari said.
While the price of staples and other consumables like beans, soybeans, maize, sugar, garri, palm oil, tomatoes, dairy and poultry products among others have soared, Nigerians are not sure of what will happen in coming months as the prices may still go higher between the August and December.
However, experts are of the view that the current situation is due to the effect of the COVID-19 lockdown, flood, high demand and low production.
Surveys by a journalist in Ogba market in Lagos reveal that prices of food stuffs and other consumables are twice the prices of 2020 and early 2021.
Nneka Ifedi, a food stuff seller said things have taken a very terrible turn as compared to before because the business it is no longer lucrative.
“What we buy for N1700, is now N3500 or N4000, including the high cost of transportation. In food stuff business, the more you sell, the higher your gain. You cannot get your gain in just a single product. Before, we buy cheap and sell cheap and even the buyers are happy, but now the reverse is the case”.
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She called on the Buhari-led administration to open the borders to ease the plight of traders.
Speaking further, a frozen food dealer, Bolanle Ahmed and CEO of Bola Foods lamented on the high cost of purchasing frozen food.
“The products we buy at N2,000, sell at N3,000, is now N4,000 which we sell between N5, 000 and N6,000. Customers are complaining. We are not gaining much and we are experiencing low sales. Sometimes we just sell it anyhow because we do not want to lose our customers and because we don’t want the goods to decay.”
She blamed the present government for the tiring situation, saying things were better during the Goodluck Jonathan tenure.
“The government is at fault. We do not manufacture products, hence closing the borders will make it hard for everyone because we have to smuggle in products.
“Let Buhari resign because he is incompetent, not calculative and let a vibrant person take over”.
A rice dealer, Joseph said the lingering farmers/herders crisis and low production due to effect of lockdown from the COVID-19 pandemic is the cause of the hike.
“The level of insecurity is getting to much, manufacturers can’t reduce prices due to the cost of raw materials. Our youths should also be encouraged and enlightened to be interested in agriculture. We are in this situation because of the high cost of raw materials used by manufacturers. There should be re-orientation of our youths which should bring about attitudinal change” he added.
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