Nigerians Groan As Staple Foods Soar Beyond Reach

The high cost of staple foods occasioned by rising inflation has put many Nigerians on edge as they find it difficult to purchase essential items to feed on, Daily Trust Saturday reports.

Daily Trust Saturday reports that recent data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that the inflation rate is at 33.2 percent, underscoring the cost pressures which have pushed the prices of food higher to limit purchasing power.

In Benue State, citizens have continued to lament their sufferings occasioned by the rising cost of staple foods.

Maria Okpe, a resident in Makurdi, said the situation had become unbearable due to the inability of her family to feed properly.

“We can’t afford even pepper anymore. We can’t touch tomatoes too. We cannot buy fish or meat anymore.

“This situation is quite horrible to say the least. I would appreciate if the government reverts to the old fuel price so that the cost of living can be affordable.

Our correspondent who went Makurdi town reports that a cup of corn now sells for between N250 and N300 depending on the sizes while five tomatoes go for N1000. 

Also, a custard bucket of garri currently sells between N3000 and N3400 as against its former price of between N400 and N600 this time last year.

Other food items including sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, mangoes and yam, among others, have become unaffordable according to some residents who spoke about their plights.

Chike Ekwe, a resident of Makurdi metropolis, said his family can no longer afford bread and tea for breakfast because of the high cost.

He said, “The bread I usually buy for my family at the cost of N500 before the fuel subsidy removal is now N1,500 or N1,800 depending on where it is bought.

“A custard bucket of Irish potatoes cost between N7,000 and N9,000 while just one mango cost between N250 and N350. The list is endless. So, I can tell you that our suffering seems endless.”

Sarah Adanu, another resident, simply described the suffering of many families like hers as, “going through hell.”

“The truth is that we can’t feed ourselves anymore. We’re deeply pained by the high cost of staple foods for the common man,” Adanu maintained.

Yams, others beyond reach in Abuja

In the same vein, the prices of major food items have significantly increased across several markets in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

For instance, a set of tubers of yam that is usually sold for N5,000 or less is now between N10,000 and N15,000 in some areas. 

Speaking with Daily Trust Saturday, a yam trader at Maitama Ultra-Modern Market Kubwa, Ikechukwu Ruth, attributed the increase in the price of yam to the high cost of transportation.

Ruth said the high cost of petrol and diesel has had a significant impact on the cost of transporting food items, which is reflected in the final selling price of tubers like yam and potatoes.

“When we consider the high cost of transporting yam from the yam market to where we sell them, we are left with no option than to increase the price. It’s annoying but what can we do? The government needs to bring down fuel price,” she said.

Amina, a mother of four, purchasing groceries at Dutse market, explained that she has had to double her budget for food since late last year at the expense of other things as well as savings.

“Before, we use to spend not more than N70,000 on food monthly, but the recent increase in the price of food means spending around N190,000 monthly, while income has remained the same, leaving the family with very little to allocate to other areas,” she said.

Janet Rimaneze, a retailer, said she’s witnessing a decline in customers’ patronage as they struggle to cope with the escalating prices of goods.

“This is affecting my sales and profit seriously, and I fear that if this persists, I may be forced to stop my business because as things stand, I am barely managing to cope and stay in business,” she said.

Mrs Utibe Marcus, a mother of two, expressed distress over the soaring prices of food items in the market.

Marcus said: “It is becoming increasingly difficult for me and my husband to properly feed our small family. The prices of basic food items like rice, beans, and cooking oil have gone up in the past few months. I am deeply worried about how we will cope if this trend continues.” 

Residents groan as tomato scarcity hits Kano

Residents of Kano State have expressed serious concern over the current tomato scarcity in the state which has made the commodity very expensive and almost unaffordable by many people.

Daily Trust Saturday reliably gathered that the price of tomato has gone up beyond the reach of many households in the state. Sources at the Yan Kaba vegetable market, which is one of the biggest vegetable markets within the state metropolis, said there has been serious reduction in the supply of tomato which resulted in the hike in price.

It was on record that sometime in May 2024, tomato farmers raised an alarm on the resurfacing of Tuta Absoluta pest at the peak of tomato harvest. The stubborn pest resurfaced in almost all the Kano irrigation sites at Garun Malam, Kura, Bunkure, among others.

Tuta Absoluta is one of the most devastating pests affecting tomato crop in the world. Since its re-emergence in Nigeria in 2016, the pest has rendered many farmlands and tomato farmers hopeless, which has negatively affected tomato production in the state.

Speaking to Daily Trust Saturday on the pest’s resurfacing in some tomato producing areas in the state, chairman of Tomato Out Growers Association of Nigeria (TOGAN), Alhaji Sani Danladi Yadakwari, stated that despite raising an alarm, authorities concerned left the farmers at their own peril and the farmers thought they would be able to control the pest.

He said all indicators have shown that the pest overpowered the farmers this year as many had abandoned their farms because they knew nothing would come out of it.

The chairman had forecasted a serious drop in tomato production this year which he said may result in tomato scarcity.

The recent pest’s attack is said to have affected several farm lands across Kano River irrigation sites thereby affecting the year’s tomato supply. Another tomato farmer, Isa Haruna Dorawa, said if care is not taken, the state may experience serious scarcity of tomato. He added that the attack being experienced is very serious and alarming; while urging stakeholders to come to the aid of the farmers in order to save the situation.

A recent visit to Yan Kaba vegetable market revealed that a big basket of tomatoes which sold for N26, 000 in the last few weeks now sells between N95,000 and N108,000.

According to a tomato merchant, tomato supply from Kano State ceased very early due to Tuta Absoluta pest attack, and so merchants brought in tomatoes from other places. Due to high demand for the commodity, the business became saturated with buyers while the supply was very minimal, leading to the price going high.

“As you can see, many of us do not have the capital to buy the commodity anymore because the price has gone up beyond our reach. I have never experienced a situation like this in my 28 years in the business, this is alarming. There is a need for authorities to do something about this,” he said.

Malam Gambo Muhammad is a resident of Tarauni quarters, and according to him, many households that can afford it have resorted to the use of sachet tomato paste while others that cannot afford the sachet tomato have resorted to the use of dried tomato.

“Many households are now using concentrated sachet tomato paste which is now selling at N200 per 210g and those that cannot afford it are now using dry tomatoes,” he said.

However, a Kano-based tomato farmer Malam Halliru Bello Gafan has urged the authorities to come to farmers’ aid with substantial support to produce tomato during the rainy season. 

In Kwara, Mrs Eyiwunmi Taiwo, a resident of Adewole, Ilọrin West local government area, said the situation is scary unless something drastic is done to stop the continuous inflation. 

“I sell cooked noodles but it will interest you to know that I can’t eat from it the way I used to before and still make appreciable profit because of the escalating cost of foodstuffs. I don’t buy the noodles in cartons but the ones that have been bagged which used to cost about N19,000 but now sold for N29,500. I had prepared to sell today but had to shelve it when I got to the market because of escalating prices. 

On her part, Mrs Omowumi Mohammed, a foodstuffs and provision trader, told Daily Trust Saturday that “A rubber of rice that once sold for around N1,800 is now N2,200 while 50 pieces of Knorr bullion cube is now 1,200 from N800. Bread is now N1,200 for family loaf as against N500-N600 and N50 biscuits is now N100 with reduced quantity. According to a Yoruba proverb, we now eat money not food. People are just living passively, hoping that things will be better despite the fact that the reality has not reflected that.”

Another resident, Hajia Ishola Oladuni, a civil servant, said it is now increasingly difficult to stock the home with basic ingredients and eat three square meals a day. 

According to her, “The struggle to put food on the table daily is another story entirely. Now, we can’t even drink garri conveniently or have snacks in between meals. I just imagine what will happen when this continues. For how long are we going to lament?

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