Port Harcourt — Port Harcourt, the Rivers capital, may experience scarcity of bread due to an increase in the price of flour.
A survey in the city, revealed that some bakeries had closed shop while others now produce at low capacity due to the high cost of flour, the major item used in baking.
The survey showed that the price of a 50-kilogramme bag of flour had risen to N7, 400 from its former price of N6, 200.
Consequently, the price of bread has recorded about 20 per cent increase, with a "luxury" loaf now selling for N280 as against N250 while the biggest size of bread now costs N350, from its former price of N300.
"We now sell the size next to 'luxury' at N160 instead of the normal price of N140," Mrs Christiana Akpan, a bread seller, said.
She said that the commodity was fast becoming expensive and scarce because of the rising cost of flour, adding that it was becoming difficult for some bread sellers to buy much quantity for sale.
Akpan disclosed that regular buyers of bread had reduced their patronage, saying: "even families, who need bread everyday and still manage to come and buy, do not buy as much as they used to."
She called on the government to intervene and ensure that the price of flour was reduced to enable all bakeries to resume production and make bread available and affordable.
Mr Alaribe Agalah, the Manager, National Special Loaf, said that the situation was such that "a baker who used to exhaust 200 bags, if he continues to do so in the new price regime, he will incur a loss of N200, 000 for that quantity."
He said that his bakery, which used to use 100 bags for bread production over a period of about two weeks, had reduced its usage to 50 bags "because our retailers have reduced the quantity they buy from us."
Auchi records increase in bread price
Also in Auchi community in Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo, has recorded an increase in the price of bread, survey, has revealed.
Also affected in the price increase are snacks, including meat-pie, egg-roll and sausages.
The new price regime for the food items, which now has a loaf selling for between N170 and N180 as against its former price of N150, began few weeks ago.
The price of one egg-roll has gone up to N80 from N60 and other items also recorded between 15 per cent and 20 per cent price increase.
Sellers of the products attributed the increase in prices to bakers, who they said, added money to the cost of the items.
Similarly, the bakers attributed the rise in the price of the confectioneries to increase in prices of flour and other baking materials.
A baker, Mrs Sadenu Alimat, said that the price of a 50-kilogramme of flour had risen from N6, 500 to N9, 000, adding that prices of other baking items had also increased.
Another baker, who pleaded anonymity, blamed the increase in price of flour on the recent pronouncement by the Federal Government on compulsory 20 per cent cassava flour content in bread making in the country.
"In as much as we appreciated the government's decision on the issue, the flour millers should have waited for the policy to be fully implemented before rushing to increase their prices.
"It is a good policy because it will create employment for our children but we want this policy to be fully implemented in a way that all stakeholders have nothing to regret," he said.
Reacting to the development, some residents said that it would increase the hardship faced by the people and appealed to the government to urgently reappraise its policy on cassava bread.
One of them, Mallam Albulwasiu Bukoye, said that if the cassava bread policy would place the masses at a disadvantaged position, it should be reconsidered.
"I am sure that there are some things that needed to be looked into to ensure that everyone is happy at the end of the day," he said. (NAN)