Traders and buyers in Lagos markets have expressed dismay over soaring prices of food items as Nigeria’s food inflation figures again recorded an upward tick, moving from 19.50 per cent recorded in May to 20.60 per cent in June.
According to figures by the National Bureau of Statistics, the composite food index rose to 20.60 per cent in June 2022 on a year-on-year basis; the rate of changes in average price level declined by 1.23 per cent compared to 21.83 per cent in June 2021. The NBS in a report titled “Consumer Price Index May 2022”, said the rate of changes in food prices compared to the same period last year was higher due to higher food prices volatility caused by COVID 19.
This rise in the food index was caused by increases in prices of bread and cereals, food products, potatoes, yam, and other tubers, meat, fish, oil and fat, and wine. “This one litre of vegetable oil, we used to sell it N800 but now we are selling for N1600. The profit we were making when we were selling N800 is even more than what we make when we sell at N1600.”
Another trader, identified as Ugochi, said the food business had become increasingly unprofitably due to the frequent hike in the price of food items.
A buyer, Favour, in a chat with the correspondent, said, “The prices of foodstuff is really becoming something else, and the sad part is that nobody is saying anything about it. In a country the minimum wage cannot buy a bag of rice. I just do not understand how people are surviving.”
A professor of Economics at Covenant University, Jonathan Aremu, said Nigeria’s food inflation was a reflection of the holistic process of food production – from harvesting to when the final product hits the marketplace.
According to him, by the time cost of basic farming utilities like fertiliser and farming are factored into the equation, then the price of food items will invariably go up.
In the same vein, the Deputy-President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Gabriel Idahosa said that what was being dubbed as food inflation by the NBS, from critical perspective was a function of “food transport inflation.”
Idahosa said, “There are two main reasons. The first is that all the food is transported from the rural and sub-urban areas where the farms are located to the cities. That transportation is mostly done by trucks that use diesel. So, the massive increase in the price of diesel is translating into a massive increase in the cost of moving the food.
“It is not so much an increase in the cost of producing the food at the farm, but the cost of moving the food from the farm or the sub-urban processing plants to where most of the food is consumed by non-farmers. That is why you see such a strong correlation between the urban inflation and the food inflation, because these two things basically gravitate around the urban population. The farmer does not feel any food inflation because he just harvests the food from the farm and consumes it.”