Thursday, September 7, 2017

Food prices drop in Nigeria

The harvest of food crops in the South-west has made appreciable positive impact on the prices of foodstuff, a survey by the News Agency of Nigeria has revealed. Some farmers and stakeholders, who spoke with NAN correspondents across some states in the zone on Wednesday, attributed the positive development to the sustained focus on agricultural development by the federal government.

They expressed optimism that the effort at revamping the country’s ailing economy would materialise, if the renewed focus on agriculture persisted. They also cited government’s efforts at strengthening the naira by encouraging locally produced goods. These actions, they concluded, had boosted food production, resulting to good harvest that had led to a drop in the price of foodstuff. 

In Oyo State, a maize seller, Azeez Zubair, told NAN in Ibadan that a measure (mudu) of maize, which cost N420 before the current harvest period, now goes for N200 while a bag of maize, which was sold for N18,000 previously now cost N10,000. He said that the price could have been further reduced if more youth had ventured into agriculture and therefore, advised youngsters to go back to farming in order to permanently tackle food insecurity in the country. 

Also speaking, Romoke Fashola, a yam seller, said that six tubers of yam that previously cost 3,000, now sells for N1, 200 while the price of 60 tubers of yam had dropped to N18,000 from N30,000. Mrs. Fashola said that the price of yam would still drop as the harvest period lasted. She, however, observed that exportation of yams, would limit the drop in the price of yam this harvest season. In his own contribution, Alao Adetayo, a farmer, identified one of the factors inducing price spikes as the high cost of farm inputs and transportation occasioned by bad roads. 

He urged the federal government to rehabilitate rural roads to ease farmers’ stress in the transportation of farm produce to urban centres. Reacting to the development, Oyewole Oyewumi, the Oyo Commissioner for Agriculture, Natural Resources and Human Development, said the state government had embarked on various measures to boost food production. Oyewumi said that the government had begun to recruit many unemployed youth into agriculture through the inauguration of the Oyo State Agricultural Initiatives (OYSAI) tagged ‘OYO AGRIC’. 

He said that this effort had contributed to increased food production and the resultant affordable prices of farm produce this harvest period. The commissioner added that the government had also embarked on the repair and expansion of rural roads to ease the transportation of farm produce from rural communities to urban areas. In Osun, a similar trend was observed in different parts of the state, especially at major markets in Osogbo and Ile-Ife. A yam seller at Itakogun market, Ile-Ife, Christiana Alani, said that five big tubers of yam, previously sold for N4,000 now cost N2,500. Mrs. Alani added that five small tubers which cost N1,200 before harvest, now sell for N800. 

She observed that a small bag and a measure of maize, which sold for N24,000 and N350, now cost N21,000 and N300 respectively. Similarly, in Alekuwodo market in Osogbo, five big tubers of yam now cost N,3000 as against N4,500 before the harvest while a bag of maize sells for N22,000 against N24,000 previously. 

Tawa Ahmed, a food seller at the market, attributed the fall in the prices of foodstuffs to the ongoing harvest of farm produce. “Usually, prices of foodstuffs come down at this period of harvest but by the end of October, there may be slight changes in the prices when harvest of crops draw to a close,” Mrs. Ahmed said. On the contrary, however, Taye Babatunde, a foodstuff distributor at Oja Tuntun, noted that the price of beans had remained high in the last few months as a bag of white beans sells for N40,000 while a plastic measure costs N650. 

Mrs. Babatunde said that a bag of sweet beans, which was formerly sold for N25,000 and a plastic measure for N700, now costs N30,000 and N750 respectively. At Igbonna market in Osogbo, a bag of brown beans attracts N33,000, as against the initial price of N29,000 while a plastic measure, which formerly cost N600 now costs N700. Meanwhile, Moses Oladipupo, the Vice President of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in Osun, said that the newly-harvested crops had triggered 50 per cent drop in the prices of foodstuff generally in markets in the state. Mr. Oladipupo noted that most of the food crops being harvested were planted between March and June. 

He expressed optimism that the prices of foodstuff would further drop in the course of the harvest period. Also commenting, Ganiyu Awojobi, the AFAN Chairman in Ife East Local Government, concurred that the prices of foodstuff would further decline as the harvest progressed. He, however, argued that it was normal that when certain food crops were being harvested and made available in the market, their prices would drop in line with the law of demand and supply. 

In Ekiti, respondents said they were excited over the evident fall in the prices of foodstuff and their availability in the market. A farmer, Jide Ogunyemi, in Ikere Ekiti, said that farmers were actually relieved of the hardship associated with the ailing economy, saying that they would not relent in their efforts to sustain the trend. Mr. Ogunyemi, however, said that the state government needed to do more in the area of providing the enabling environment as well as incentives for farmers to further encourage them. 

He told NAN that many farmers in the state still lacked access to agricultural inputs and cash support to enable them to expand and maintain their farms. The peasant farmer noted that most of them would want to be equipped with agricultural skills, equipment and facilities, including storage, marketing and distribution of farm produce. In Kwara, the newly harvested crops also made some positive impact on the prices of foodstuff, as revealed in the NAN survey. 

For instance, in Baruten Local Government Area of the state, a measure of maize, which sold for N6,000 before, now costs N4,000 while six big tubers of yam now cost N2,000 as against N5 000 before the harvest period. However, the price of Guinea corn remained high as the crop was not yet due for harvest hence, one basin of Guinea corn sells for N6,000 as against N5,000 in May. A pepper seller who identified herself as ‘Iya Ramota Alata’, said that pepper had also witnessed price reduction as a bag of long pepper sells for between N6,500 and N7,000 as against N8,000 sold in May. 

She also said that the price of onion had also dropped with the arrival of the newly harvested commodity. According to her, a bag of white onion now sells for between N18,000 and N20,000 while the red onion sells for N15,000 to N18,000. Kayode Ehindero, the Chairman, Agriculture and Allied Employees Union (AAEU) in Kwara, attributed the drop in commodity prices to good harvest.

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