Blessing, a serial entrepreneur walks around the busy market at Ibafo in Obafemi Owode LGA of Ogun State, intending to get foodstuffs from a lesser-price trader.
She explained to this reporter how feeding has become a sudden burden, especially in terms of having children who need to grow with good nutrition.
“To feed a child in this economy is tough and as a mum, it is a huge pain. The hike has affected me a lot in terms of feeding,” she said.
Although Blessing knows that she has to put a lot into having good meals, it appears she sometimes gets the little she can afford so her children can at least have food in their stomachs.
Like when her parents used to put in a lot for her and her siblings to have adequate meals, she strives to work hard to do the same for her children. For most mothers now, the worry is about if the children have eaten, not if they have had enough.
Hike in Prices of Market Goods
Prices of food items have soared in many parts of Nigeria in the past few months. The core thing this reporter noticed is that the hike in prices of foodstuffs didn’t start now. There has been a lot of clamour regarding this situation five to six years back. However, the prices keep increasing day by day and month by month.
According to the report released by the National Bureau of Statistics, the food inflation rate as of August was 23.12% which was 2.82% points higher compared to the rate recorded in August 2021, which was (20.30%).
In the report, the rise in food inflation was caused by the increase in prices of bread and cereals, food products, potatoes, yam and other tubers, fish, meat, oil and fat.
Other causes, according to this reporter’s checks, are inadequate policy, poor governance, transportation costs and worsening insecurity. Due to a combination of limited availability of food items and rising demand, these factors have caused food prices to increase.
The rate at which the prices increase cannot be overemphasized. Goods bought at a price today can be bought at a different price tomorrow.
One of the women who spoke to this reporter mentioned her surprise when she went to the market to get groundnut oil but discovered that the price had increased from what she got a few months ago.
“In April, I got groundnut oil for #2800, when I went back to the same place to get it, I was told it was #5600. I had to check in different places before I succumbed to that price.
“With four children, I am concerned. In the past, what I needed to prepare meals that will last for a week or two is no longer enough for two days,” she said.
From a random check at Ibafo market in Obafemi Owode LGA of Ogun State, a bag of rice cost #30,000 but was purchased at #18,000 in 2021.
A basket of tomatoes was between #8,000 to #9,000 in 2021, but it is now purchased for #35,000. A crate of eggs which was within #1000 and #1200 is now #1950, the prices of these food items differ depending on the region or state.
Everyday Feeding and Low Financial Capability
For many people in the country, feeding the family has become a daily challenge. Feeding a family of four is seen as a burden not to talk of a family of six or seven. The current realities of this situation are forcing families into hunger.
Due to the hike in Prices, an average Nigerian who could afford to feed three times a day is now struggling to feed twice or less. Lots of working-class Nigerians can no longer live a decent life with their income not to talk of those earning lower than the minimum wage in the country.
This reporter’s findings reveal that most people are avoiding marriage for the fear of not being able to provide for the family and this is a result of the hike and change in the prices of foods and the inability to cope considering their current income.
Folake, a woman who spoke with this reporter expressed her sadness over the situation.
“I just bought tomatoes of #1000 and it won’t take us two times. After the first and second meal, it is finished. What can I do when I use tomatoes for everything I cook?”
The availability of affordable and healthy foods contributes to a person’s well-being and reduces the risk of related chronic diseases, but in a situation where there are no affordable foods for most families, what happens?
Despite the understanding that there is nothing they can do about the hike in price, a problem that market traders battle with is low patronage. Consumers can barely afford to buy goods because of the hike in price and the traders are not happy with the current economic situation in the country.
As the price of food increases, the market traders get fewer sales. Most of these traders go to their shop with the hope to make sales better than the last, but their hopes are cut short when at the end of the day, they realize they have sold almost nothing. For many of these traders, low patronage means low profits. And when they return to get more goods, a different price has been placed on them.
Iya Afin, a market woman lamented the situation while asserting that there is nothing they could all do about it.
“We have no choice but to manage the situation. The money I used to buy three goods back then is what I use to buy one now.
“What we buy of #2000 is now #2700 and it is affecting our sales. Our customers who buy three to four goods now buy one. When goods are high, people would be unable to buy,” she said.
Few Nigerians have given up on anything the government can do for them. It was eminent on the faces of a few people this reporter spoke to. They feel the government knows what to do about the situation but they decide not to.
In June, The Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmad, disclosed that the Federal Government has put measures to address the issue of food inflation and will provide methods to reduce the cost of food.
Food Market at Ibafo, Ogun State.