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In May 2021, the prices of major food items across the world rose to their highest level in 10 years — and Nigeria is no different.  A visit by TheCable to some markets in Lagos and Ogun states have shown a greater increase in food prices in the last six months.

The increase has further reduced the purchasing power of most consumers who are already cash-strapped due to the stuttering economy, high unemployment rate amid ballooning inflation.

In its latest monthly price index, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said the world food price index increased in May — highest level since 2011.

In the monthly index, cereal prices rose six percent in May month-on-month and 36.6 percent year-on-year. Maize prices led the surge and are now 89.9 percent above what they were earlier in the year. It also noted a jump in vegetable oil index by 7.8 percent in May — lifted by rising palm oil, soya.


At Ile-Epo market and Ota market (Oja-Ota) both in Lagos and Ogun states respectively, TheCable noted sharp increase in prices of onions, garri, vegetable (groundnut) oil, beans, and rice.


The price of a bag of onion at the markets increased by 46.67 percent from N15,000 to N22,000; a medium-sized bag of onions jumped high by 100 percent from N4000 to N8000; a basket of onions now costs N4000 from N2000, while a bucket (small rubber) costs N2000 from N1000. Advertisement

Food items on display at a roadside market in Lagos


Last month, the Onion Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria (OPMAN) had announced plan to stop the supply of onions to south-south and south-west states. This followed the suspension of the supply of the item to the southeast over alleged attacks on members’ trucks by gunmen in Imo state.

Mohammed Aliyu, a trader at Ile-Epo market, told TheCable that the increase in the price of onion is due to supply shortage.


However, Yakubu Musa, another onion seller at Oja-Ota, said, “the price increased because it’s seasonal”.

The price of bread has also gone up to N350 from N250 in major supermarkets visited by TheCable.

In May, the Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria (AMBCN) said prices of bread and biscuits will increase by 30 percent to cushion the impact of rising cost of production.

Similarly, in less than a year, a bag of garri went up by 54.55 percent to N17,000 from N11,000 while beans now costs N32,000 from an average of N15,000 to N16,000 per bag.


Biola Adekanbi, an investment analyst, said insecurity in major parts of the country has also affected food production in the country forcing demand to outstrip supply.

“For Garri, Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava in the world but states with huge production are currently battling with farmer-herder crisis,” he said.Advertisement


Despite being the 14th leading rice producer globally according to the UN food agency’s biannual report, a bag of rice (local) rose from N19,000 to N22,000 while foreign (imported) rice now cost N25,000 from N21,000.

Chuks Samuel, a trader at Ile-Epo market, said: “The price of foreign rice always fluctuates, before it was N21,000, it increased to N25,000, some even sell it for N27,000 and it can drop anytime too”.

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Mama Ireti, also a trader at Oja-Ota, said: “Big Kings (25 litres of groundnut oil) is now N21,500 before it was between N18,000 to N19,000; 10 litres (Kings groundnut oil) is now N9,500 but before it was N6,500”.

Also the price Kings oil increased by 42.86 percent from N3,200 to N5,000; while Laziz oil for the same litre is now sold for N4900 from N3500.


A trader arranging his products at Oja-Ota in Ogun state

Meanwhile, a bag of sweet potatoes slightly increased to N14,500 from N13,000, while a rubber (small) sells for N3,500 from N3,000.


In both markets surveyed, tomatoes were scarce (sold in small quantities); however, the price range for a bucket (small) is N3,000, while a rubber costs N1000.


The FAO noted that food prices are expected to rise in developed and least developed countries this year on food import cost. It explained that these countries are the most exposed to rising import expenditures, especially in their fiscal and macroeconomic capacity to meet higher expenses.

“Food import bills of economically disadvantaged groups of countries, such as Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDCs) and countries situated in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are expected to rise in 2021 by varying degrees,” FAO said.


“The bills of LDCs are forecast to increase with 4 percent, while those of SSA and LIFDCs could increase by 11 and 20 percent, in tandem with the global increase.”

The food agency further said the global food import bill is projected to reach $1.71 trillion this year, up from $1.53 trillion in 2020.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the composite food index rose by 22.72 percent in April 2021 compared to 22.95 percent in March 2021.

NBS said the rise in the food index was caused by the increase in prices of coffee, tea and cocoa; bread and cereals; soft drinks; milk; cheese and egg; vegetable; meat; oils and fats; fish and potatoes; yam and other tubers. 

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