The people of Lagos State and other surrounding areas have expressed their concern about the rising cost of common foods like garri, rice, flour, beans, etc., which many attribute to the current lockdown imposed by the Federal Government to clamp down on the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The prices of bread, semolina, garri and other major foods consumed by Nigerians have shot up as many sellers fear the impact of the Coronavirus on food availability.
In most of the markets correspondents have being to, the price of garri, has increased from N600 for custard rubber to about N1,300. The price of brown beans, on the other hand, has increased from about N1,100 to N1,400, while the price of white beans that is of lower demand, remained at N1,000 for a custard rubber.
The prices of bread, wheat flour and semolina have also gone up by N50, as the sellers warned things may continue to go up like that should this lockdown linger.
A civil servant, Mrs. Felicia Bejide, who lives around Ojudo told newsmen that staying at home has doubled their food consumption thereby weighing down on their food reserve.
She said, “When the President announced the lockdown on March 29 and we were able to do some shopping the following day till 11pm when the lockdown began, we bought many things, based on our financial capacity. But now, we have almost finished all we had, especially when you have children at home. And we never knew it would be extended.”
“On getting to the market to restock, I was surprised to see the increase in prices of foodstuffs now, especially garri. The price has doubled. Likewise, the prices of other food items has increased. I have to cut the quantity of what I planned to buy and that means we have to ration, especially when the palliatives from the government do not get to us.”
The situation is no different in Ogun either, where a barrister, Gbemisola Balogun, who lives in Ota told the press that things are hard with the price hike and the lockdown that has been extended.
She said, “I bought some foodstuffs before the lockdown started but their prices have gone up now. The cost of paint bucket of garri ranges between N1,100 and N1,300. One tin (derrica) of ogbono seed which cost N800 is now N1,400. Yam is very expensive now depending on the size of the tuber. I bought a tuber for N1,800 on Thursday.”
On their part, the sellers, when asked about the price hike, attributed it to the lingering lockdown which has affected the importation and production of these foods.
One of them, who identified himself as Chidi, said, “The hike in the prices of foodstuffs now is a reflection of the drop in supply and of course the rise in demand. When we asked them, they said it’s because they didn’t know when they would get another stock and that even when they go to bring in foodstuffs, policemen often disturb them on the road and all the money we use in bribing them would have to reflect on the prices.”
When interviewed on phone, Kabir Ibrahim, who is the president of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, said the price hike has affected other things also, not just the food sector.
He said, “Prices of foodstuffs have gone up because the supply is very low and the demand is very high at this time. Borders have been closed and nothing is coming into the country, everybody now depends on what we produce locally.It is still marginal now, we are not yet supposed to cry. Things may be terrible by next year if we do not make efforts to increase our food production capacity. Unless we upscale our production, we might not be able to meet the level of demand.”
“But the President in his last address asked us to mention where we need help. We have told the government that we need improved seedlings and should be readily available. We also said we want inputs to be available.”