Basic food dealers have identified bad roads, logistic challenges and activities of some inter-state levy collectors as factors accounting for high prices of locally produced foods. A comparative survey revealed that a 50-kg bag of rice was N8,500 in 2017, N15,000 in 2018 and 25,000 (foreign) in 2019. A carton of chicken was N9000/N10, 000 in 2017; N11,000 in 2018 and N15,000 in 2019, while a big basket of tomatoes was N7000/N8000, N9000 and N12,500 in 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively.
They have complained that demand for Nigerian rice is more than supply, leaving their requests unattended to for months hence resulting in an increase in price. Alhaja Faliyat Olukoya, a market leader in Mile 12, who is also a rice dealer, disclosed that it usually takes the processors a longer time before delivering the product.
“The current state of Nigerian rice and the price in the market are becoming something one can no longer handle.
“Since demand is more than supply, farmers take so much time in delivering our products and when they finally come, you find out that the cost is much and the only way to get profit is to add something on top,” she told The Guardian.
According to Mrs Joy Eze, one of the distributors in Mile 12 marketplace, festive periods are the most crucial times for farmers and dealers to make profit, accounting for increase in food prices.“The yuletide has made price of rice to be at higher side now, which has been a tradition in the Nigerian markets. Price varies, depending on the company that produces the rice. Prices of Nigerian brands of rice currently range from N17,000 to N20,500.
“The one less than 20,500 are mostly filled with stones because we dealers buy it from the farmers directly, process and re-bag it to customer’s taste to ensure sales,” she said. Again, Eze described high cost of transportation as one and major factors affecting prices.
“The cost of transporting half trailer of rice cost N80,000 from farmers’ villages to Lagos. That is after buying the produce at exorbitant prices,” she added.A rice distributor in Ketu Market, Ogbonaya Micheal, said some farmers do sell less processed rice to them, giving dealers cost-increasing work that requires labour to destone and rebag the product.
The market leader said agricultural commodities go through about eight different intermediaries before getting to the final consumers, thus increasing prices at each stage since the motive behind buying and selling is to make profit. “Also, the government should be saddled with the responsibility of regulating and fixing prices for farmers and processors for favorable prices,” she suggested.
In the same light, Mrs Eze called for the empowerment of farmers across the country, saying, “The government should encourage farmers financially and subsidise products.“Our roads are terribly bad. Transporting goods from the north to the south is costly. Different government agents and security personnel contribute to the cost too.
“One pays money on checkpoints no matter what and it is really frustrating us and our business.”One Miss Chinwe of Oshodi marketplace said that there had been about 200 percent increase in rice since 2017, and the closure of boarder has aggravated the situation for both the dealers and consumers of Nigerian rice and poultry products, which, ironically, should be cheaper.
“In 2017, we sold a carton of dressed chickens for N9000/N10,000. In 2018, it was sold for N11,000/N12000 and today we are selling for N15000,” she lamented.
A dealer in Mile 12 popularly called the law confirmed that tomatoes in the festive periods are always expensive, “but 2019 increment in prices of tomatoes, onions and peppers is so alarming.”He pointed out that in 2017, a basket of tomatoes cost N7000/N8000 while in 2018, it was N9000, but today it costs N12,500. A bag of onions goes for 33000 and a big basket of pepper goes for N9000, out of the reach of ordinary Nigerians.