opinionBy Charles Adingupu
BARELY three weeks ago when wild flood ravaged some states in Nigeria, prices of staple food items as garri, rice, beans and yam are beginning to soar high.
A random survey conducted by Saturday Vanguard at the popular Mile 12 market in Lagos, shows that the sudden increase in prices of these essential food items is predicated mainly on the recent flood which rendered millions of Nigerians homeless and destroyed many farmlands across the nation.
A staple food dealer at the popular Mile 12 market, Mrs. Augusta Nwabudike said that within a span of two weeks most of the essential food items had witnessed sharp increase price.
According to her, 'Yellow' garri which is common with people from the Niger Delta region in the near past was sold for N6,500 a bag but today it goes for N9,000. Conversely, the white garri otherwise known as "Ijebu" garri was sold for N5,500 a bag but the recent price is N8,000.
A bucket of 'Yellow' garri was sold at N350 but it sells now for N450 to N500. The white garri, a bucket previously cost N300 but it is currently sells for between N400 and N450.
Another staple food dealer at the Mile 12 market who gave her name simply as Dorathy, blamed the sudden jerk currently being experienced in these staple food on the surging flood which threatened the extinction of most states across the state.
The increase in price in garri which is an essential food in virtually every family household just started only this week. I went to buy from the travellers bringing garri and we were told that the price is no more the same," Dorathy said.
Mrs. Nwabudike also disclosed that a bag of beans which ordinarily goes for between N6,500 to N7,000 is now N14,000.
"Just about few weeks ago, we sold a paint bucket of beans "Oloyin" brand goes for N180, but it is now N1,600 a bucket while the other lower brand otherwise known as "Olotu" sells for N750, but it's now N1,500. A cup of beans commonly referred to as Derrica is now N250. There are indications that the price may go up further," Mrs Nwabudike said.
Another essential staple food virtually in every family menu, rice, Dorathy said has equally experienced slight increase in price.
"Rice is yet to effect increase in price as such. The cheap one is the Agric rice which is N7,500 a bag but not good enough. Although, it was sold at N6,700 in the near past.
"Also other brands of rice still maintain a price range of N8,000 and some hundreds of naira but the most preferred and better brand of rice is the Mama Gold and Royal Umbrella which were sold at a price range of N9,280 but its current price is N10,000.
A bucket of rice goes for between N700 and N750 depending on the brand," Dorathy further disclosed.
Yet another trader, Isa, who deals on Onions, Irish potatoes and salad condiments told the Vanguard that onions is the most affected of his sales.
"Just few weeks ago, we bought a bag of onions for N6,000, to N6,500. But today, a bag of onions is now N25,000. Now tell me how I can sell it to maximise profit because people can still prepare their meals without onions, Isa lamented.
A lorry driver, named Ahmed whose main pre-occupation is to convey fresh tomatoes, pepper and onions from up north of Nigeria to Lagos, blamed the astronomical increase in prices of these essential food items on the flood.
Ahmed the driver warned that the situation may even deteriorate beyond what Nigerians are currently experiencing because the flood truly uprooted a lot of farm produce.
"What we are currently bringing in were reserved, stored. I feared that when we exhaust these reserves, what happens? There won't be any replenishment because water has taken over the farmland. Besides, getting to the interland to get these products have become a herculean task because water has invariably washed away most of the roads. They were not tarred but only graded," Ahmed said.
The lorry driver who declined to disclose the cost of a lorry load of onions, predicted hardship, adding that Nigeria will only have to depend on neighbouring country as Niger for some of these products.
Madam Nwankwo who trades on gallons of palm and groundnut oil, said that a 25 litre of palm oil which sells for N5,500 to N5,800 is currently sold at between N7,000 and N7,300.
"It is not only oil that has suffered sudden increase in price. This is suppose to be a season of new yam. In other words, yam would be in abundance. Initially, in a season like this, you can get a reasonable proportion tube size of yam at N100, this is new yam. This will serve for a meal in a family of five. But today, such tuba of yam now goes for N250 to N300," Madam Nwankwo said.
Collaborating her claim, Iya Oloja who sells yam at the Mile 12 market said that five tuba of yams were sold at N1,200 to N1,350 but today, the same proportion of yam is now N2,000 and above depending on the species.
"Nobody will sell yam tuba at N100 except if the trader stole the yam. There is nothing like New ya. Although, the old yam are still more expensive. The dealer told us that water has carried their farmland. We, too, are in business to survive. Next year may be worse," Iya Oloja said.
Mrs. Nwabudike said that the sharp prices in these staple food has impacted on noodles as well. She disclosed that a carton of Indomie super pack which initially goes for N1,750 is currently being sold at N2,050 and N3,000 respectively.
Golden Penny Spaghetti which contains 20 pieces in a carton was initially sold at N1,900 but today is N2,100. Similarly, a small indomie carton was previously sold at N1,200 but it is now N1,300," she said.
Mrs. Nwabudike however, pointed out that prices of noodles may even go further higher, when it will be revealed next year that these essential food items will not be reached.