Increase in Food Prices in Nigeria: Causes and Effect

A recent report by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics showed that food inflation in Nigeria rose to a staggering 22.95% in March of 2021, the highest in over 12 years. This shows a 2.38% increase between January and March of 2021 and many have raised concerns over the constant increase in the inflation of food prices.

hike in food prices in Nigeria

A recent report showed that Nigeria’s working population now spends 60% of their income on food and food-related expenses while Nigerians that earn less than minimum wage spend 95% of their income on food.

Consumers have expressed dismay at the increase stating that the prices of food items have more than doubled from what they used to be about 5 years ago. For instance, a crate of egg that used to sell for 600naira in 2016 now sells for as high as 1200 naira, the price of a sachet of tomatoes has tripled in the last two years from 50 naira to 150 naira per sachet, a basin of garri that used to sell at 2400 naira per basin in 2018 now goes for up to 4950 naira depending on the source.

The average price of one kilogram of tomato increased by 31.81% in the last year, the average price of local rice and imported rice also went up by 31.87% and 38.62% respectively

For companies that produce biscuits, it may seem that the price has remained the same but a closer look shows that these companies resort to reducing the quantity and quality of a pack in order to maintain the price of these items.

Causes of the Hike in Price of Food Prices

Global Pandemic
Many farmers in Nigeria have reported poor harvest and losses on their farms due to natural and social disasters. The pandemic has also been another major reason that contributed to the hike in food prices as farmers were unable to sell many of the product due to the interstate lockdown leading to waste and loss of output; some of the products were stolen from the farms due to the widespread hunger.

After the lockdown was eased, many farmers in the country were unable to access loans from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) anchor borrowers’ program.

Closure of Border
In August of 2019, Nigeria closed its land borders to the trade of some commodities in order to encourage domestic production of certain food items and this led to a drastic increase in the prices of food items. The closure of the border led to 3-month high inflation because local production has still not been able to meet local demand. Goods have become increasingly hard to get into the country, leading to the increase in prices of these commodities.

The constant clash in the north (link to the northern food blockade) between herdsmen and farmers has greatly contributed to the hike in the price of food items.

Earlier this year, the incessant attack of farmers by the herdsmen led to the Northern food blockage; this meant that crops like tomatoes, onions, yam etc that were grown in the North were withheld from being transported to the southern states as a form of protest against the attacks.

northern food blockade in Nigeria

This blockade led to the skyrocket of food prices and wastage of farm produce that were unable to be transported.

Flooding and Poor Storage Facilities
Flooding continues to be a major issue in many Nigerian states and this has raised major concerns amongst the agricultural stakeholders.

Severe flooding impedes the growth and cultivation of farm produce especially in Jigawa and Kebbi states where the production of rice is constantly being affected by the flood in these states.

In addition, poor storage facilities continue to pose a threat in the fight against insecurity as farmers are not able to properly secure the produce from the farm.

There is also an inadequate provision of storage facilities for perishable goods such as tomatoes and this leads to waste of farm produce.

The effect of the hike in the price of food items continues to eat deep into the society as many individuals spend a large percentage of their earnings on feeding and those who cannot afford to have experienced a decrease in the quality and quantity of food consumed.

A Nigerian Merchant, Feyintola Bolaji while being interviewed by Aljazeera explained this

“It is really bad, I can’t simply afford to give my children what they really need in terms of food,” said Bolaji, a mother of three in her 50s based in the southwestern city of Ibadan. “I try to make them get the nutrients they need as growing children, but it is not enough,” she said, adding “I have had to cut down on meat and fish.”