The closure of the country’s borders seems to have led to increase in prices of some food items such as rice, frozen chicken and turkey. Observers say if the borders are not opened before December, it portends a bleak Christmas for many Nigerians, given the astronomical rise in the prices of both the local and imported rice.
Investigations by our correspondents in major markets in Lagos showed the prices of some of the items had increased between 42 per cent and 100 per cent from August when the borders were closed to the last week of September. At Ile Epo Market, Daleko, Mile 12, Isheri and Ogba, all in Lagos, a 50kg bag of imported rice that hitherto sold between N13,000 and N14,500 has now shot up to between N24,000 and N30,000, while the local variants of 50kg bag had risen from N14,000 to N18,000.
A 12.5kg plastic measure of the imported rice that hitherto sold for N3, 750 had moved up almost 100 per cent to N6, 000. For the local variant, it had moved from N3, 500 to N4, 800.
The price of the smallest measure called Derica or Congo (781g) of the imported rice has also shot up from N280 to N400 while the local variant has moved from N250 to N300. There are 64 of the measure in the 50kg bag. A rice seller at the Ile Epo market, Isa Mohammed, said, “Since the borders have been shut, the prices of foreign parboiled rice have increased. The 50kg bag of such rice in July still sold between N13, 000 and N14, 500. But it is now being sold between N24, 000 and N30, 000.
“Prices of other measures of the same variant have also increased.” At Isheri Market, a rice seller said he had to increase the price of his rice because he was getting his supply at a higher price.
He said, “The 50kg bag of imported rice that we used to sell for about N21, 000 now costs N30, 000. The 50kg bag of local rice that was sold at N16, 000 now costs between N22, 500 and N23, 500.
“We learnt that the government has closed the borders so the goods cannot come in again.”
When asked why the border closure should affect the local rice, he said, “They now sell the local rice to me at a higher price; so, I have to increase my price too.”
A woman who sells frozen chicken said the price had gone up because of the border closure. Before the border closure, frozen chicken and turkey were N1, 300 and N1, 400 per kilogramme, respectively. But it now costs N1, 500 and N1, 700 per kilogramme, a survey has shown.
At Ogba Market, one kilogramme of chicken, which cost N1, 000 a month ago, now sells for N1, 500, recording 50 per cent price increase. Also, findings showed that a kilogramme of turkey which sold for N1, 200 in August is being offered at N1, 700 in the market, representing 42 per cent increase.
Traders in the market attributed the price hike to the closure of the border through which the frozen poultry products were brought into the country.
However, it was gathered that the prices of tomato had remained the same in the past one month. A trader who identified himself as Adamu said that a basket of tomato is being sold for N17, 000.
He, however, said there was price fluctuation in the tomato business. For instance, Ajiboye recalled that the measure being sold at N17, 000 cost N7, 000 three months ago. The fear of bleak Xmas heightened as the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hammed Ali (retd) said the borders may remain closed until January 2020. At Yuletide, prices of these essential food items may skyrocket and be out of reach of ordinary Nigerians. Punch
Pix: Bags of rice