– Barely weeks after Easter celebration, prices of basic commodities have soared in various markets across the state
– According to a survey conducted by NAIJ.com at Ojota market, Lagos, prices of foodstuffs, perishable items and imported items have increased drastically
– This rise in the price of goods continues becomes a poser to many traders
– The recent market situation has since led to poor sales and incessant lamentations by the traders
With the current economic situation that seems to be a puzzle to many, prices of basic food items have risen just few weeks after Easter celebration.
The rise in prices of goods and other locally produced commodities seems to bother on the existence of the people in the country.
Traders who sell local rice at the market linked the unfavourable price of goods to cost of processing the commodities and scarcity, as only few farmers are engaged in the production of local produce. They also blamed that of imported rice to closure of borders and high cost of transportation.
Most of the traders who spoke with our correspondent informed that the stability in the prices of the commodity had no positive effect on purchases as most customers preferred buying in smaller measures because of the exorbitant price.
In the same vein, they complained about the outrageous price of local rice which resulted to low demand and poor sales.
A consumer named Kafayat, who sells rice at the Ojota market said the slight decline has not yielded positive result in terms of sales owing to lack of purchasing power. He, however, linked the persistent high price to the weakening value of Naira against foreign exchange rate.
Findings by NAIJ.com at Ojota market, Lagos, revealed the increment in the price of goods like beef, fish, yam, perishable items and foodstuff items.
Traders at the market informed our correspondent that some goods have become scarce due to the season while others are limited.
Chisom, a lady who trades in foodstuff items in the market, explained to NAIJ.com correspondent about the current change in price.
She said: “Before, I sell a bag of egusi in less than two weeks but now I can’t even purchase a bag because of the increment in price. The exchange rate, the insurgency in the North, the cost of purchase and carriage have affected the price.
“Just recently, a bag of egusi have increased from N60,000 to N80,000. a bag of egusi (handpeel) costs N70,000 as against its old price of N45,000 and below. A bag of ogbono cost N95,000 and the price is determined by the type, the size of the bag and the market location. But, Dry pepper has become more affordable due to the large supply in the market. A bag of dry pepper (small) cost N45,000 while a bag of pepper (Cameroun pepper) cost N25,000 as against its old price of N30,000.
“The problem we have as traders is low profit despite the huge patronage. We are not happy with the current situation of things in the market so far.”
Prices of pepper and tomatoes have risen by 50 per cent while prices of carrots, apple, cabbage and fresh vegetables have become relatively low.
Some traders attributed the increase to the forthcoming farming season. They said that by April, the species of tomato called UTC and produced in Jos, Plateau would no longer be in the market due to the farming season.
A basket of tomatoes that used to sell for N8,000 prior to the festive period is now sold from N10,000 upwards while a bag of long pepper popularly called tatase has gone up from N8,000 to N10,000 as well. A big bag of round pepper popularly called rodo has also risen from N10,000 to N13,000.
Traders who spoke with NAIJ.com at the market admitted that the increase in the prices of the perishable food stuffs was due to the season and the economy, which has resulted in the reduction in supply of some food items.
They added that the fluctuating price in the cost of goods can be linked to various economic factors like exchange rate, inflation and the devaluation of naira which has affected certain products purchased outside the shores of the country.
“The prices of goods that I sell continues to rise and fall. This trend affects buyers to a large extent because the goods they thought was affordable on getting to the market becomes expensive they will reduce the quantity of goods for purchase.
“Also, as traders, when we get to the market and then the goods are expensive, we will not be happy and in turn, purchase a reduced quantity. At the end of the day, the buyers are not the only one feeling the pain, the traders are at the receiving end as well,” said Mrs. Irene, a trader who sell fish in the market, told NAIJ.com.
A tomato seller in the market simply identified as Iya Titi, told our correspondent that the prices of her products are expected to be high due to the fast approaching Ramadan fast.
According to her, the supply of tomatoes and other items from the northern part of the country will be greatly affected.
She opined that: “For the coming Muslim fast, some goods will become very expensive as their supply will reduce leading to scarcity in the market. But others that will witness increment in prices will be due to change in seasons and weather condition.
“Some goods are reducing in terms of price like Onion but, many of the traders’ lament daily of low sales as they are afraid to shop for new goods noting that the downturn in the economy is tougher on shoppers which that have thereby reduced their purchasing power.”
In a similar development, the market situation had resulted in the increase in the prices of vegetables in Lagos, as the product now attracted extra cost spent on transportation to bring it to the main market.
The price of vegetable has witnessed an increment due to the weather condition as informed by the sellers.
Mrs. Cynthia Onwuabu, a vegetable seller at the market, said the economy has not affected the price of vegetables rather the change in the weather condition.
She noted that: “The change in weather condition has affected the cost price of vegetables generally in markets across Lagos state. Apart from the weather condition, the distance of the market to the farm and the cost of purchase with carriage inclusive. When all this are added up, the vegetable becomes very expensive and the quantity reduced.
“So far, sales have been encouraging because people cannot do without cooking on a daily basis. There is an improvement so far in the level of sales.”
Findings by our correspondent further revealed the plight of beef sellers. Alhaji Sodiq, a beef seller informed that the cost of purchasing beef has increased but the level of patronage is higher now compared to previous months.
He said: “Before now, some buyers who patronise us prefer buying fish due to its affordability. But now that fish and other perishable items becomes expensive, they have started buying in higher quantity.
“Patronage for me has been amazing. I resume here by 8:00am and before 6:00pm I have finish selling for the day. I don’t go home with leftovers; with this I am grateful.
“Due to the cost of purchase, most beef sellers have taken up another trade and we that are here, only stand because we have no other means of livelihood.”
Mallam Yisa, another trader who sells yam in the market, expressed dissatisfaction at the level of sales.
He told NAIJ.com that despite the reduction in the price of yam, the patronage is frustrating while the profit margin has also reduced.
“This is a trying period for us as traders. We sell our meat but at the end of the day, we don’t make up with the cost of purchase. Now we do not make sales as usual because when we purchase the goods at an expensive rate, we sell at a higher price and the traders sometimes when they are not pleased with the price, they walk away; this affects sales and reduces the profit after daily sales.”
At the market also, the price of groundnut oil and palm oil remained stable. A 20-litre keg of palm oil that was sold for N11,500 still sells for between N11,000 and N11,500 while a 20-litre keg of groundnut oil maintained its price of N12,500 depending on the brand and size of the gallon.
Specifically, prices of commodities like rice, garri, beans, yam, wheat and semolina, among other basic items, have become affordable just a week after Easter celebration, but sales have been on the decline.
With reports of workers being laid off, and salaries of workers not being paid as at when due, the situation of regular buyers seems to keep experiencing a downward slope.
This is one development that has made both the rich and the poor speak with one voice even though the latter is more affected. Sadly, the situation is affecting the income of an average Nigerian worker who earns a minimum wage of N18,000.
In a chat with NAIJ.com, Mr. Nnamdi, a trader who sells food items like rice, beans and garri, noted that the development in the market despite the trend in the foreign exchange, cannot not be totally blamed on wholesalers and retailers because manufacturers still deliver goods at a high rate which also necessitates the traders to sell the way they do.
“The price of goods is mostly influenced by the manufacturers and the people who buy directly from them. Right now, the price of rice is still stable and can be purchased from N14,000 upwards while a bag of beans, depending on the type, the content of the bag, the brand and the market location. A bag of beans ranges from N24,000 upwards. While a bag of garri (yellow and white) cost from N6,500.
“Most buyers preferred foreign rice to local rice for festivities because of its durability. The price of foreign rice would soon increase due to activities of the Customs who are really preventing its importation to the country. A lot is needed to be done to improve local rice to meet the foreign standard. But we hope for the best ahead,” the trader lamented.
Reacting to the development, a clothe dealer at the market said: “Until the economy stabilises, the cost of goods and services will not come down. This is not the time to buy cheap things because we all have to make some sacrifices and still hold on because Nigeria is import dependent.
“This trend has to pass through attest of time and process. And this will take permeate all sectors of the economy and has to be closely monitored in order to achieve a desired change we are all fighting for. The people’s support is needed at this period. The development may not make any impact yet until sellers dissipate their old wares which may have been purchased at higher exchange rates.”
Market survey: We now drink garri even though we hustle hard – market women via NAIJ.com TV