Regular increase in food prices, not our fault – Anambra traders

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Some foodstuffs dealers at Ose Okwodu market in Onitsha North, Anambra, say they are not to be blamed for the regular hike in food prices.

The traders said this during an interactive session with the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), who visited the market on Thursday, to identify factors contributing to the regular hike in food prices.

They identified insecurity, high cost of transportation due to fuel subsidy removal, climate change and inadequate attention to agriculture as some of the major factors escalating prices of food items across the country.

Mr Cyprian Onyejekwe, Secretary, Ose Okwodu Traders’ Union, said that farmers who were the primary producers of food supply were scared to go to their farms due to insecurity.

Onyejekwe said that the safety of farmers, who were the primary suppliers of food was no longer guaranteed in the country as they were either kidnapped killed or their farms destroyed by cattle rustlers.

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“Even the traders who go to buy from the farms are usually attacked on the road and even pay over N1 million to settle ‘Agberos’ along the way. This is really affecting farming and food supply.

“Usually, we spend about N1 million to transport goods from farm to markets, but now we spend more than N10 million to N15 million.

“So, traders are not to blame for the hike in food prices. It is about law of supply and demand; and it is only government that can address this problems.

“If government can urgently address insecurity, and strategise on mitigating the impact of the fuel subsidy removal, supply will increase and prices will decrease and stabilise,” he said.

Also speaking, Mr Emmanuel Ndubuisi, Chairman, Grain Seed Dealers, said that droughts due to climate change destroyed and decreased farming output, especially grains, in 2023.

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Ndubuisi said that Niger and Borno States, which were major producers of grains could not produce enough to feed the nation.

“After planting season last year, at the rate of growth, drought damaged the crops, which resulted to low harvest.

“Before now, lorry load of grains are offloaded three times every week but due to scarcity, we offload once a week and it affects the cost of grains.

“A 100kg of beans rose from N100,000 to N220,000 and N260,000; a bag of maize rose from N45,000 to N120,000; groundnut rose from N90,000 to N189,000 and a bag of bambara nut now sells for N240,000,” he said.

Other dealers in tomatoes, pepper, onions, fish, potatoes, yam and other food items, urged the Federal Government to invest and increase budgetary allocation to agricultural sector.

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Addressing journalists, Mr Jude Akonam, Zonal Coordinator, FCCPC, South-East, said that the market survey showed government’s willingness to address the hike in food prices, and amelioration of the sufferings of Nigerians.

“Ose market is popularly known as food hub because most consumable from across the nation is being offloaded here, and from here they are distributed across the states.

“We have interacted with the market leaders and traders to find out the reason for price instability of foodstuffs and the solutions they have proffered will help government take necessary steps to address the problems.

“People cannot plan and buy in bulk anymore due to spiral change in prices of food and FCCPC has a mandate to protect Nigerian consumers,” he said.

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