Unpredictable prices of commodities worries traders, consumers

By Francis Akinnodi


Traders have decried the unprecedented hike in prices of commodities as the market system becomes unpredictable.

Nigeria recorded an average of 28.2 percent increase in the prices of major food items within the last few months.

The situation has plunged the citizens into a financial crisis fueled by hyperinflation.

A market survey carried out on food prices by The Hope across Ondo State indicated that the prices of food items have been on a steady rise in the last few months.

The food items monitored included yam, rice, beans, vegetable oil, palm oil, tomatoes, pepper, maize, onion, and millet. Others are noodles, spaghetti, sugar, wheat flour, meat, garri, wheat, and guinea corn.

A cross-section of traders spoke with The Hope on their experiences orchestrated by the current economic realities in their various lines of businesses.

A skin care consultant, Uche Ikechukwu, said the current economic situation had almost put him out of business.

“I don’t get customers like I used to. My customers are cutting down on skincare purchases to prioritise other essentials like food and transportation, and that is affecting sales significantly. Restocking has become a daunting task as costs continue to soar.”

A foodstuffs retailer at “Oja Oba” in Akure, Mrs Ojo Olabimpe, lamented that the increase in prices had continued to threaten her business.

She said, “I buy foodstuffs from the market wholesale and sell them. But these daily changes in the prices of items are affecting me so much that I find it difficult to buy the items.

“Do you know that three days ago, I bought a carton of spaghetti for N13,000, today I was told it is N14,000.

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“Now, when you add to the cost of each one today, by the time you return, the prices will have gone up again.

“So, you will be forced to add more money. A bag of beans is now N120,000, whereas it was N70,000 before. People are going for anything cheap now. Many families are hungry.”

A mother of two, Mrs Mede Orunmade, said the present situation had made life unbearable for her and her family.

Orunmade stated that it was as though the country was at war, adding that the hike in the prices of foodstuffs was continuous.

She said, “It has been a hard time for me and my family. The country hasn’t been in the right position for the past eight months. I have been struggling with my family to clear up our electricity bills. Coupled with the ever-rising price of foodstuffs, I don’t know if I am going to survive.

“I used to operate an online business but it has packed up. There’s no gain on any business in Nigeria like before anymore. I am just striving to survive.”

Another trader, Wunmi Dada, “The government needs to come to our aid now as everything is very hard. Four litres of groundnut oil is now N8,400.

“This is getting too much. We hope the government will come to help us.”

Further findings by The Hope revealed that a kilogramme of Semovita, which sold for N800 four months ago, now sells for N1,200.

A trader, Agnes Njoku said, “The prices of the foodstuffs are just annoying. I can no longer restock my shop because the amount of money I used to restock it to the full cannot even get a half-restock.

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“Tell me, how are we going to cope with this? The worst is that no one knows when this would end, may God help us.”

A visit to a market in Ondo, showed that a 50kg bag of foreign rice was sold for N79,000 as against N50,000 a month ago.

A full bag of iron beans was sold for N110,000 as against N89,000 a month ago.

In the same market, Sunday Obinna, who sells beans, noted that “right now, beans is very costly in the market. The problem is not just from the market but from the main farmers. Beans started rising last year and it has continued.”

Also, a cow seller, Ayodele Bankole said prices of beef have soared.

“Our customers are complaining that cow is costly now. And we, the cow sellers, complain about not seeing cows to buy. If you eventually see, it is very costly. So it is not our fault.

A tomato dealer in Akure, John Niyi said, “We are in the season of harvesting tomatoes but instead of tomato prices decreasing, it is going up.

“When things were good, I sold a big raffia basket of tomatoes for N7,000. But the basket is now N30,000 and above as I speak.”

A crate of egg that sold for N3000 now sells between N3,800 and N4,000 depending on the size.

A cloth seller simply identified as Mr Daniel bemoaned lack of patronage in recent times due to the hyperinflation, adding that people do not care about what to wear but what to eat.

“Everything is so difficult that people no longer live to impress but to survive. Any little money people get now, they channel it to food instead of buying clothes.

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“I do not blame them anyway because it’s when you have eaten to get physical strength that you would think about what to wear.

“Our counterparts selling food items are the ones making it now, but they too have challenges because the prices of foodstuffs have significantly increased over 100%,” he added.

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