Nigeria: Jollof Rice 'Inflation' Rises 7.8 Percent in March

The SBM Jollof Index tracks how much it costs to make a pot of jollof rice across markets, and uses the figures to measure the inflationary trends in the country.

The average cost of preparing a pot of jollof rice, a popular delicacy among Nigerians, rose 7.8 per cent between March 2020 and March 2021 in the country, a report has said.

The report by SBM Intelligence, a research organisation, said this in its latest Jollof Index report.

The SBM Jollof Index tracks how much it costs to make a pot of jollof rice across 13 markets in six geopolitical zones for a family of five or six, and uses the figures to measure the inflationary trends in the country.

The National Bureau of Statistics on Thursday said Nigeria's inflation rate rose to 18.17 per cent in March, amid accelerating increase in food prices.

The commodities monitored by the Jolof Index are rice, curry, thyme, knorr seasoning, groundnut oil, turkey or chicken (poultry), beef, pepper, seasoning, tomatoes, salt and onions.

The report said the average cost of making a pot of jollof rice in Nigeria increased to N7,400.

"This is despite the border reopening and the slight reduction in the cost of a bag of rice. The average cost of making a pot of jollof rice rose 7.8 per cent between March 2020 and March 2021," it said.

"This period saw significant events that have greatly impacted food prices.

"The COVID-19 lockdown from March to May, the border closure and forex restriction policies in August were consolidated by increased energy tariffs in September 2020.

"While the coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions of forex for importation caused by falling oil prices are external triggers, the prolonged border closure and increased energy tariffs are internal contributors.

"In addition, protests against police brutality and the government response which brought the main consumer markets of Lagos and Abuja to a standstill for parts of October 2020 disrupted agricultural supply chains and the movement of people and goods, piling more pressure on food prices," it said.

Most expensive food items

The report said rice was the most expensive ingredient in the delicacy, followed by onions and tomatoes.

"The cost of a bag of rice has only slightly dropped by a margin of N1,000 - N3,000 depending on the market but this has not translated into a significant reduction in the cost of making jollof rice especially for the majority of Nigerians who buy from retailers.

"Reduced local production, exchange rate fluctuations, poor harvest due to adverse weather conditions, high cost of energy electricity and transport tariffs are some of the reasons why food prices have remained high," it said.

The report said some of the jollof rice ingredients rice, onions, tomatoes witnessed reduced local production because of protracted conflicts and terrorist attacks on farmers.

It said out of the 11 main rice-producing states in the country, Benue, Borno, Ebonyi and Kaduna have witnessed attacks on farmers with the gruesome being the execution of about 110 rice farmers in Borno in November 2020.

"As a result of these incidents, several farmers are leaving the countryside and moving to the cities to take up menial jobs," it said.

Cost of jollof in different markets

The report said the cost of making a pot of rice was most costly in Wuse market, Abuja, and least costly at Akwa market, Cross River.

"These differences may be due to operational costs rather than the actual cost of commodities," it said.

"While people in Akwa can substitute buying some of the commodities with products from their subsistence agriculture, the same is not possible in Wuse, largely because of its very urban nature."

The report added that the cost of making a pot of jollof rice increased in Akwa, Calabar Municipal market, Mbakpa, Onitsha, Port Harcourt and Trade fair, while Balogun, Bauchi Bodija, Dugbe, Kano, Nyanya and Wuse experienced a slight decrease.

The South-south and South-east states experienced an increase in the cost of making jollof rice.

Northern states experienced a price reduction.

"This price decrease can be attributed to the harvest period which usually forces prices of some commodities like onions and tomatoes down," the report said.

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