The general prices of food items in Lagos are soaring by the minute. The most expensive food items at the moment are yam and soup ingredients such as tomato and pepper. The reasons for the soaring prices as given by traders are the increase in petroleum product prices across the country, the ongoing insurgency in the North where most of the items are gotten from, extra depot charges and a shortage of the goods as most of them are seasonal.
Vanguard reports that a visit to popular Ketu Market in Lagos revealed that tomato and pepper prices had risen to over 100% over the past two weeks. A small basket of tomato which is usually transported from the North, is sold N18,000 as opposed to the previous price of N5,000 or N6,000 while a big basket now sells for as much as N27,000 as opposed to the previous price of N12,000. Similarly, a medium basket of ordinary pepper otherwise known as atarodo increased astronomically from N8,000 to N15,000 while a basket load of big bell peppers otherwise known as tatashe went from N10,000 original price to N17,000.
Prices of melon, yam, stock fish, and crayfish were also observed to be on the rise as a big tuber of yam which previously sold for N300 now sells for N600 and more while a 5 litre paint bucket of crayfish which used to sell for N1,200 now sells for as much as N2,500.
According to Mr. Abdulli Isa, a trader at Ketu market, the problem started just after the conclusion of the 2015 general elections which caused delivery of tomato and pepper into the depot to reduce drastically and this also affected the quality of tomato supplied to the market.
He said, “Also, the dealers bringing in the items from the North incur financial losses due to some factors. These include high cost of transporting the goods to Lagos, the quantity of tomato and pepper that are destroyed due to the distance and method of conveyance. Sometimes we spend two to three days on the road to convey these items to the depot in Lagos, even after bringing them from the farm. Another challenge that triggered the sudden increase in prices of the items is the scarcity and increase in the prices of petroleum products. So, when the items are finally brought to the depot, these losses are counted and the cost added to the goods, that is why prices are unusually high, especially at this time of the year.”
Also Mrs. Lawal, who is a tomato trader said that the high cost of transportation not withstanding, there were other charges associated with storage at the depot. She said, “You have to also pay for keeping the items on the ground in the market for the number of days you are going to sell. Another problem is that this period, the number of people bringing the goods from the farm are very few. We discovered that many people are now afraid of going to farm because they could be killed by insurgents in that area”.
The hike in the food stuff prices are also affecting business owners as two restaurant owners in the Ketu motor park has decried the increase in food, especially tomato and pepper, as it affects their business because customers are not willing to pay extra for their food.