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Shoppers in last minute rush for Christmas

By Fatima Muraina
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There was a last minute rush by the people of Ondo state yesterday in preparation for Christmas celebration as major markets across the state witnessed large patronage.

Our correspondent’s visits to the popular Shasha, Oja-Oba, Isinkan and Nepa markets revealed that the prices of food items had skyrocketed. A bag of foreign rice (popularly called Aroso) which was sold for N16, 000 now sells for N23,000 upwards while the Nigerian local rice is sold at N17,000 per bag.

Speaking with some consumers at the markets visited, they decried the obnoxious level at which the retailers had increased the prices of food items.

Some of the consumers stated that prices of food items were not as much as they were some weeks ago as they implored the sellers not to take advantage of the festive period and the large patronage at the markets to extort consumers.

Some of the consumers also noted that this was not the first time such a sharp increase in prices of food items were experienced in the state. They said that it is the usual practice by the sellers during festive periods to increase prices of food items.

They further said that the prices continue to increase  daily as the Christmas celebration draws nearer. A food vendor in Akure who is popularly known as Mama twins expressed dissatisfaction at the situation.

Speaking with some traders in the markets visited, a rice farmer who simply gave his name as Austin at Oja-Oba attributed the high cost of items to the refusal of the Federal government to allow the importation of foreign rice in order to promote the consumption of locally produced rice.

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An Hausa rice seller told The Hope that they sell according to the price they got the item for and not because of the festive period.

“We also sell at a reduced price, depending on what we buy from the market”, he said.

Also speaking, a fresh fish seller who does not want her name mentioned lamented seriously about the high cost of a  carton of Mackerel which she said went for N18,000, expressed her perplexity about how to sell the product to get her money back not to talk of making profit.

Speaking on the present situation, the Ondo State Chairman of Farmers Association, Prince George Oladapo said the high cost of rice was not because of the Christmas celebration but because the Federal Government wants to discourage the eating of imported rice for Nigerians to patronise the local rice.

He, however, noted that those who smuggled in the products need to make up for the expenses incurred in the process of smugglling the product into the country. Oladapo who responded to the high cost of local rice said it was due to the production process that is involved.

He also attributed it to the non-availability of a milling machine, claiming that none is existing within the South Western states at present.

He praised the present administration for its effort on provision of a mill which he said is being awaited.

According to him, the local rice selling price can reduce to as much as N5,000 a bag if there are rice milling machines available in the country.

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The market survey also revealed that there was an increase in the price of frozen food items. A carton of full chicken is sold at N11,000 while a kilo is sold at N1,500.

A carton of “Orobo” chicken is sold at N11,000 while a kilo is sold at N1,200. A carton of gizzard is sold at N15,000 while a kilo is sold at N1,500. A carton of chicken wings goes for N12,500 and a kilo goes for N1,500.

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