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Food price: We can hardly meet family needs -Bayelsa, Edo, Delta residents

Residents of Bayelsa, Edo and Delta states have expressed concerns over the increasing prices of food items in the nation, calling on the government to save the situation.

The respondents, in separate interviews on Tuesday, lamented the high cost of living, claiming they could hardly cater for their family needs.

Others, however, believed the situation was getting better with the improvement of the Naira to dollar exchange rate.

A civil servant in Bayelsa, Mr. Goodness Ebibai, said he could no longer adequately stock his home with food, fearing that it might get worse with the school resumption.

According to Ebibai, things have become very difficult for him as it is daily becoming nearly impossible to provide quality meals for his family.

“These are trying times for my family. I have payment of school fees, which have been increased, along with my house rent, now also due; waiting to be attended to.

“Last week, a paint bucket of rice (containing two and a half congo) my wife bought for N6,500 is now N6,800.

“The N300 price increment could have been spent on some other items at home,” he said.

These are trying times for my family. I have payment of school fees, which have been increased, along with my house rent, now also due -Father

A teacher and mother-of-four, Mrs. Ayibabebara Timi, says her family can no longer afford three square meals a day because of the high cost of food.

According to her, though the rise in prices may be a global phenomenon, “Our government needs to find ways to cushion its effects on the Nigerian populace.

“In this town, many people cannot afford to eat a meal a day. That is how bad things have become. It is a difficult time for the country, so let the government find an urgent and lasting solution.”

A NAN correspondent who visited the Swali Ultramodern Market reports that a big basket of tomatoes, sold at N10,000 in February, is now N24,000.

Similarly, a 50kg bag of mango rice sells for N80,000, while the Inza brand of the same size sells between N40,000 and N62,000, depending on the customer’s choice.

The market survey also reveals that a bag of garri currently sells for N45,000, while the retail price of a paint bucket sells for N3,000.

In this town, many people cannot afford to eat a meal a day. That is how bad things have become. It is a difficult time -Bayelsa mom

According to the survey, a paint bucket and a bag of beans sell for N6,500 and N74,000 respectively.

NAN observes that prices of items such as pepper, onion, crayfish, plantain, and snail, among others, have slightly increased.

However, the Bayelsa State Commodities and Export Development Agency spoke of its efforts to promote export business and increase the state’s revenue generation profile.

The agency’s Director-General, Mr. Paul John, told NAN of the efforts being made to encourage local food production and make the state become self-sufficient in food production.

This, he said, would help to reduce prices of food items and starvation in the state.

“We export products for sale, export products overseas, encourage internal food production and encourage international export production so that we can produce a lot and send them overseas.

“We have identified 17 export produce that we can use to make a lot of returns to the state government, and we have some of these export produce in tonnage.

prices of items such as pepper, onion, crayfish, plantain, and snail, among others, have slightly increased

“They are palm oil and plantain; we have cassava and cassava produce which are being processed into garri and other things.

“We have also identified crops like bush mango, which is Ogbono, and we also have crayfish, shrimps and snails.

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“We have water yam, water snail, bamboo raffia palm, potatoes, banana and others,” he said.

NAN reports that the situation in Edo is not different as stakeholders call for the establishment of a price control board to mitigate the effects of the hardship being experienced by the people.

In some major markets within the Benin metropolis, a bag of rice, which sold for N50,000 in January, now sells for between N70,000 and N85,000.

A gallon of vegetable oil sells for an average of N29,000 against N22,000 a few months ago.

We’re not making sales as before due to the hike in food prices; customers have reduced the quantity of food they buy in the market -edo trader

A basket of tomatoes that was sold for N10,000 in January now sells for N26,000, while a carton of fish now sells for about N92,000 against its N32,000 price in Nov. 2023.

NAN also reports that a cup of Ogbono now sells for N2,500; a cup of melon goes for N500; a mudu of beans at N4,000, while an average size of yam sells for N3,000.

Reacting to the various food prices, a trader at Ikpoba Hill Market, Mrs. Doris Osamu, said, “We heard that the prices of food items have reduced, but we are yet to see this in reality.

“We are not making sales as before due to the hike in food prices; customers have reduced the quantity of food they buy in the market.

“I am a trader and also a consumer, so I am equally affected by the price increment. We want the price of fuel to come down so that the transportation of goods will be reduced.”

Meanwhile, the interim chairman, Edo State Civil Society Organisation, Austin Enabulele, called for the establishment of a price control team to checkmate the incessant hike in food prices in the state.

The high prices of fuel and diesel have led to high cost of production and this has translated to high prices of goods and services -Activist

“It all boils down to government policies, as the hike in the price of fuel has led to the hike in transportation and this has translated into the hike in food prices.

“Prices of food items across the various markets in the state skyrocket daily. This is also attributed to the selfish interests of some sellers.

“Some traders are capitalising on the hike in fuel price to make too much profits from their goods. This has to stop and a price monitoring team should go round the markets to checkmate this nefarious practice,” Enabulele said.

He, however, called on the government to reduce the price of petroleum products to enable businesses to thrive.

“The high prices of fuel and diesel have led to high cost of production and this has translated to high prices of goods and services.

“Refineries should be made to work in the country. We learnt that the Dangote refinery is working but we are yet to feel the impact of its operations,” he said.

There’s need to checkmate the excesses of some market unions. The unions fix prices of food items and this leads to high cost of food items

On his part, Edo State Chairman, Traders’ Welfare Union of Nigeria, Comrade Lucky Orupke, attributed the hike in food items in the state to the handiwork of some middlemen serving as union leaders.

Orupke affirmed that a price control measure would help to reduce the hike in food prices in the state as well as checkmate the excesses of some market unions.

“You can’t sell farm produce in the market unless you belong to a foodstuff union. The unions fix prices of food items and this leads to high cost of food items,” he said.

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The union leader, however, expressed optimism in the intervention of the government, not only to address the immediate price hikes but also to ensure long-term food security in the country.

In Delta, NAN reveals that prices of food items are still high save for some food items whose prices have only been marginally brought down.

At Ogbeogonogo Asaba Modern Market, a carton of frozen turkey, which sold for N85,000 in March is now N70,000.

The survey also revealed that one kilogramme of frozen turkey was sold at N8,500 against its previous price of N9,000.

A carton of frozen chicken, which was N60,000 in March, is now N55,000, while one kilogramme of the commodity is now N4,500 as against N6,000 because of naira appreciation against the dollar -marketers

A carton of frozen chicken, which was sold for N60,000 in March, can now be bought at N55,000, while one kilogramme of the commodity now sells for N4,500 as against N6,000.

Speaking to NAN, some of the frozen food sellers attributed the reduction in price to the recent improvement of the exchange rate between the Naira and the dollar.

Mrs Eunice Ukadike, a frozen food seller at the Ogbeogonogo Asaba Modern Market, said, ”We must appreciate the government’s efforts at improving the foreign exchange rate.

“In the last week, prices of frozen turkey and chicken are coming down.

”But we still want more reduction in the prices because the high exchange rate is affecting our sales as customers’ patronage has reduced significantly,” she said.

On her part, Miss Linda Philip, a frozen food seller at Midwifery Market, Okpanam in Oshimili Local Government Area of Delta, prayed for the improvement of the exchange rate.

”We are happy that the dollar is reducing but we want a situation where it will further be reduced to N600 so that the price of food items will reduce,” she said.

However, the survey revealed that prices of both foreign and local rice were still high.

A 50kg of Caprice branded rice was found selling at N90,000, while most of the locally produced rice stood between N73,000 and N76,000, depending on the brand.

The retail price of the custard bucket of rice sells for N9,000.

While 50kg of Optimum rice sells for N73,000, other brands such as Mango, Tomatoes, Pretty Lady and African King among others, sell for N76,000.

The retail price of a 4-litre custard bucket for any of the brands is sold at N6,000.

A 100kg bag of brown beans is being sold at N180,000, while the retail price of the same sells at N6,000. (NAN)

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