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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Inaccessible staple food items for Nigerians due to affordability

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In recent years, the prices of major staple foods in Nigeria have risen significantly.

The situation became more complex after President Bola Tinubu announced the end of fuel subsidy payments during his inauguration as president on 29 May 2023.

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The upward trend in the prices of these staples as well as other products has weakened the purchasing power of many citizens, making it difficult for many households in the country to afford daily meals.

Staple foods are the basic foods that make up a significant portion of a person’s diet. This includes foods in the following categories: meat, poultry, or fish, bread or cereals, vegetables or fruits and dairy products.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) food inflation rate in December 2023 quickened to 33.93 per cent on a year-on-year basis, which was 10.18 per cent points higher compared to the rate recorded in December 2022 (23.75 per cent).

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It said the rise in food inflation was caused by increases in prices of bread and cereals, oil and fat, potatoes, yam and other tubers, fish, meat, fruit, milk, cheese, and egg.

A market survey conducted by PREMIUM TIMES shows that the prices of food products have doubled over the months. Below are some of the staples whose prices have gone up over time.

Rice

Rice is one of the most commonly consumed staples and important cereal in Nigeria with a consumption per capita of 32kg.

As of 2011, according to reports, rice accounted for 10 per cent of household food spending and 6.6 per cent of total household spending.

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Over 50 per cent of the world’s population depends on rice for about 80 per cent of its food requirements and about 95 per cent of the global output of rice is produced and consumed in developing countries, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Human consumption accounts for about 78 per cent of global production while the balance serves other uses such as feed.

Rice can be found on every food menu in Nigeria. Either at home or outdoors, social events, ceremonies, in eateries and during all kinds of cultural and religious festivals. It is very easy to prepare and can be prepared in so many ways such as white rice, fried rice, coconut rice, concoction rice and jollof rice among others.

But in recent years, prices of rice have increased significantly. In its jollof index report published last November, SB Morgen, a geopolitical intelligence platform, disclosed that the cost of preparing a pot of jollof rice, a popular delicacy among Nigerians, jumped from a national average of N4,087 in July 2015 to N13,106 in September 2023; representing a staggering 220.7 per cent increase.

The report explained that the average price of preparing a pot of Jollof rice rose from N12,504 to N13,106 between June 2023 and September 2023.

Similarly, in its report titled Selected Food Prices Watch for December 2023 released in January, the National Bureau of Statistics said the average price of 1kg rice local, sold loose stood at N917.93.

This, it said, indicates a rise of 81.35 per cent in price on a year-on-year basis from N506.17 recorded in December 2022 and a 5.85 per cent rise in price on a month-on-month basis from N867.18 in November 2023.

Before, the collapse of global oil prices in 2016, combined with lower domestic oil production, which led to a sudden slowdown in economic activity in Nigeria, a 50 kg bag of rice cost about N14,000 and N15,000, according to reports.

Currently, 50kg of Nigerian rice is sold for between N60,000 as against the N55,000 it was previously sold last year. While foreign rice is sold for between N70,000 and N80,000 as against N65,000 it was previously sold.

Some rice dealers in Nigeria say the price of the commodity fluctuates daily and is heavily affecting their business.

Bread

Bread is a staple food prepared from a dough of flour (usually wheat) and water by baking.

Bread, which used to be one of the cheapest staples consumed by all classes of people in the nation, is no longer within the reach of average salary earners.

Earlier in February, the Abuja chapter of the Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria (AMBCN) expressed concern over the escalating prices of all baking materials in the country.

Richard Adeyemi, the association secretary, said the survival of the industry could no longer be guaranteed due to the rising cost of all baking materials.

A loaf of sliced bread used to illustrate the story

Mr Adeyemi explained that the price increase experienced towards the last quarter of 2023 forced many of the members out of business and others that managed to survive it are yet to stabilise.

“Indeed, we are not ignorant of the N1,400 to a dollar of the foreign exchange and the flour we bought at the rate of N37,000 and sugar at N62,000 last week respectively.

“The same bag of flour today is N42,000 while a bag of sugar is N72,000 with major distributions.

“All other materials, yeast, margarine, to mention a few are at alarming rates including diesel which is now N1,250/litre against N1,050/litre sold last week.

“We understand that bread is a staple food for all classes of people but the middle and lower class consume more than the upper class which always makes it difficult for bakers to increase prices in proportionate to that of flour millers and producers of baking materials because they would not be able to afford it,” Mr Adeyemi said at the time.

Currently, a N150 loaf of bread now sells for N250 while a N500 loaf now sells between N750 and N800.

Garri

Garri, one of the most routinely consumed and dominant foods in Nigeria, is gradually going beyond the reach of the masses, as its price keeps increasing daily.

Processed from cassava, the flakes can be consumed raw with water, sugar (and milk and groundnut by people with relatively greater means). It is also used to make Eba, eaten in households and sold in restaurants all over the country.

White and yellow garri

In recent times, the used-to-be accessible food, even by low-income earners, is now a luxury.

In some major markets in Abuja, a mudu of white garri that used to sell for N400 is now between N600 and N700. While a mudu of yellow garri sold for N600 is now between N800 and N900.

Egg

The steady upswing in prices has made one of the cheapest sources of protein in the country, a luxury item. Recently, egg prices have continued to surge beyond the reach of an average Nigerian household.

Crates of eggs (PHOTO CREDIT: Mary Izuaka)

Poultry farmers, livestock feed processors and marketers have recently said the rise in the prices of key ingredients for poultry feeds is the major reason for the hike in prices of poultry products (egg) in the country.

A crate of egg that sold for N3000 now sells between N3,800 and N4,000 depending on the size.

Noodles

Nigeria is one of the largest consumers of instant noodles. The country also occupies the 11th position in the global demand for noodles, with Indomie instant noodles being the mainly consumed brand in the country.

Apart from Indomie noodles, there are more than 10 other brands of noodles competing for market share. These include Chikki, Mimee, Honeywell, Golden Penny, and Dangote among others.

Noodles are staples that can be found in a lot of Nigerian homes but recently, many Nigerians can no longer afford it.

A store packed with Indomie noodles in Kubwa, a suburb in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja (PHOTO CREDIT: Nike Adebowale)

For example, 70g of instant noodles (Indomitable) rose from N3,000 to between N7,000 and N8,000 while Superpack now goes as high as N11,300 as against N4,500 it was previously sold some years back.

An Abuja-based civil servant, Adelani Jumoke told the newspaper that of all the increases in food commodities in the country, the most surprising to her is the current price of noodles in the market.

“The one that surprised me the most is that of indomie. Now small cartons of noodles are between N7,000 to N8,000. Something that we used to buy for between N1,900 and N2,000 in the past. It is so shocking,” she said.

Yam

Yam is a starchy staple in the form of large tubers that are widely grown in humid tropical environments and is another major staple food in Nigeria.

In Nigeria, yam is prepared at numerous events like traditional marriages and is commonly prepared into several dishes such as roasted, boiled, fried, pounded yam. Yam farming is mostly carried out by low-income smallholder farmers in rural areas across the country.

Yam market [Picture credit: The Guardian NG.]Nigeria is the largest yam producer in the world, contributing to two-thirds of global yam production each year, and approximately half of all Nigerian households consume the crop regularly, according to a World Bank report.

But in recent times, the challenges, combined with the current economic situations across the country have pushed yam prices beyond the reach of the average Nigerian.

At Garki market in Abuja, a yam seller, Mallam Lawan, said “100 pieces of yam sold for N75,000 some months ago now sell between N100,000 and N120,000.”

Five tubers of big-sized yam rose from N5,000 to N9,000. One medium-sized rose from N600 to N900, he said.

Beans

Raw beans used to illustrate the story

Beans is a legume which is widely grown by farmers in various varieties. It is one of the most popular and staple foods in Africa, especially in Nigeria and the 4th most consumed after cassava, yam, and rice. It is highly recommended to eat because of its numerous health benefits and nutritional values and also is the main protein source when compared to all other proteinous foods in Nigeria.

The prices of beans have also gone up in recent times. Currently, a trader at Olojudo market, Ido Ekiti, Nkiruka Romanus told PREMIUM TIMES that a 100 kg bag of small white beans now costs N120,000 as against the previous price of N75,000.

Sugar

Sugar is another staple food item that used to be very affordable but has also skyrocketed over time. At present, a 50 kg bag of sugar sold for N55,000 as of last November, now costs N85,000.

Meat

Meat is the flesh of an animal, typically a mammal or bird, eaten as food. Meat is also valued as a complete protein food containing all the amino acids necessary for the human body. A market survey conducted by this reporter also showed that the prices of meat have soared against the price it used to be

A kilogram of meat (beef) sold for N3,000 before is now N4,000.

At the AMAC market, Lugbe in Abuja, Baba Aisha, a meat seller, said “The prices of cow have gone up. Our customers are complaining that meat is costly now. And we, the meat sellers, complain about not seeing cows to buy. If you eventually see sef, it is very costly. So it is not our fault.”

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