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Nigerian children risk hunger as parents lament high cost of baby foods

Parents are paying more for baby-related items, especially baby foods, than they did last year, findings have shown.

A market survey revealed that as a result of rising inflation, prices of baby foods have increased across the board.

Nigeria’s headline inflation rate revved for the sixth consecutive time to 22.79 per cent in June 2023, according to data by the National Bureau of Statistics released Monday.

The inflation rate in Africa’s biggest economy rose to a new 17-year high of 22.79 per cent in June 2023 from 22.41 per cent in the previous month.

The June 2023 inflation rate showed an increase of 0.38% points when compared to May 2023 headline inflation rate.

This shows that the inflation rate (year-on-year basis) increased in June 2023 when compared to the same month in the preceding year – June 2022.

The NBS said food and non-alcoholic beverages (11.81 per cent) led the list of items that contributed to the rising inflation figure.

The rising prices of many imported and domestically produced baby foods have provoked reactions from parents in the country.

Our correspondent gathered that Peak Baby milk which was sold for N3,200 three months ago has now increased to N3,600; while the Peak123 which was sold for N2,000 in June is now sold for N2,500.

Also, the price of MyBoy baby milk increased from N2,600 in February to N2,800.

The price of SMA Gold also increased from N4,500 in June to N5,000 in July. Also, Nestle NAN 2 increased from ‎N2,750 to N3,400.

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It was also gathered that the prices of eggs, wheat, soybeans, plantain, and crayfish, among others used in preparing children’s food at home have also increased in the same trend.

A mother-of-two, Mrs. Imoleayo Micah, said, “I used to buy NAN for N2,750 before, but the last time I went to the market, it was N3,400. With the way things are going, I may have to start feeding the baby with solid food and okra.”

Also, a first-time mother, Mrs Janet Oladunni said, “Parenting requires wisdom now. Rarely would you see any low or middle-class family adhere strictly to what the nurses and midwives tell you these days. I only try my best, if there is money for baby food, my baby will eat it and when there is no money for baby food, I improvise with other nutritious foods.”

However, experts fear that if prices continue to rise, many parents may cut back on nutritious meals for their children and affect the rate of malnutrition in the country.

Recall that last Thursday, President Bola Tinubu declared a state of emergency on food security as the Federal Government stepped up efforts to tackle food inflation following the removal of fuel subsidy.

Tinubu also approved that all matters about food and water availability as well as affordability, as essential livelihood items, be included within the purview of the National Security Council.

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This is to be followed by an immediate release of fertilisers and grains to farmers and households to mitigate the effects of the subsidy removal.

The October 2022 Cadre Harmonisé, a Government led and UN-supported food and nutrition analysis said nearly 25 million Nigerians are at risk of facing hunger between June and August 2023 (lean season) if urgent action is not taken.

This is a projected increase from the estimated 17 million people currently at risk of food insecurity.

UNICEF said food access has been affected by persistent violence in the north-east states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe (BAY) and armed banditry and kidnapping in states such as Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna, Benue, and Niger.

“Of the 17 million people who are currently food insecure, three million are in the northeast BAY states. Without immediate action, this figure is expected to increase to 4.4 million in the lean season.

“This includes highly vulnerable displaced populations and returnees who are already struggling to survive a large-scale humanitarian crisis in which 8.3 million people need assistance,” UNICEF noted.

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