ANALYSIS: COVID-19 Impact Hit Hard On Food Prices

 ANALYSIS: COVID-19 Impact Hit Hard On Food Prices

As Nigeria gradually heals up from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its economy, Nigerians are still finding it difficult to adjust to the skyrocketing prices of food stuff despite key indicators showing a slight relief on the country’s economy.

Twentyten gathered that averagely, the prices of every ‘regularly consumed’ food product had doubled its amount sold prior to the pandemic.

The increment is owing to several restrictions, lockdown measures and policies enacted during the period to control the spread of the virus across the states, hence suspending transactions, farming activities, transportation and public sales.

With relaxations on the aforementioned restrictions and a return to daily activities, there have been relatively little change in the prices of food products.

“I go to the market almost everyday and I haven’t seen a drop in the prices of the major food products. I usually buy beans, rice and other daily consumed products and their packs and bags and yet none have dropped in prices since last year”, Peter Olowe said.

Another Esther Efe said, ” You do not meet the same price every time you go and most likely it would have increased. Even if we say the price of these foodstuffs have dropped from their manufacturers, how about all other expenses and costs paid to transport these products. They all determine the end prices sold to retailers.”

Inflation Rate Drops, GDP Slightly Improves 

Latest data by the National Bureau of Statistics has shown the second consecutive drop in the country’s inflation Rate after hitting its highest rate in four year in March with 18.17 percent.

NBS’s Consumer Price Index measures the average change over time in prices of goods and services for day-to-day living.

Nigeria’s inflation rate has dropped to 17.93 percent in May from 18.12 percent in April 2021. 

On a month-on-month basis, the headline index increased by 1.01 percent in May 2021. This is 0.04 percentage points higher than the rate recorded in April 2021 (0.97 percent). 

The urban inflation rate increased by 18.51 percent (year-on-year) in May 2021 from 18.68 percent recorded in April 2021, while the rural inflation rate increased by 17.36 percent in May 2021 from 17.57 percent in April 2021.

Also, NBS reported that Nigeria’s GDP real terms growth is the second consecutive growth after the negative growth rates recorded in the second and third quarters of 2020– which plunged the nation into another recession.

The first quarter growth rate is subsequently higher than 0.11percent recorded in the previous quarter (Q4 2020) but lower than the 1.87 percent growth recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2020 (Q1 2020).

According to the report, in nominal terms, aggregate GDP stood at N40.01 trillion against N35.65 trillion recorded in Q1 2020, while real GDP stood at N16.83 trillion in the quarter under review.

This is coming after a revision was done by the International Monetary Fund on the projected growth of Nigeria  from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent.

Food Prices Doubled Over During Pandemic

Twentyten Daily surveyed the markets and observed the changes in the prices of food products before and after the pandemic.

A crate of Egg rose from N900 to N1500; bag of rice from N13,000 to N25,000; Pack of Spaghetti from N1,800 to N3,600; Carton of Titus Fish from N10,000 to N27,000; Bag of Yellow Garri from N7,000 to N24,000; Bag of White Garri from N6,000 to N20,000.

A 10kg Semo pack rose from N2,200 to N3,600;  Bag of Local rice from N13,000 to N23,000; 25 liters of Palm Oil from N7,000 to N17,000; 25 liters of Vegetable Oil from N6,000 to N20,000.

A bag of beans sold for N26,000 rose to N50,000; a big size tuba of yam sold for N1200 rose to N2000; Yam flour rose from N5000 to N9000; Pack of Indomie rose from N1500 to N2600; Bag of water rose from N80 to N200; Basket of Tomatoes rose from N10,000 to N25,000.

Food Importation Crisis

Prior to the pandemic, the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, directed the Central Bank of Nigeria to block food importers’ requests for foreign currency.

This was as part of an effort to boost local agriculture in Africa’s most populous country.

Buhari, subsequently, closed land borders  to control the  illegal smuggling of food products into the country. A partial reopening was considered for some of these borders after over years of closure.

However, despite this restricting directives, food products imports gobbled up $1.24bn of the foreign exchange supplied from October 2020 to March 2021.

The forex used for food products imports rose from $121.13m in September to $198.43m in October, $204.76m in November and $305.88m in December.

While $163.60m forex was used for food importation in January, $197.73m was used in February and a decline to $171.05m in March 2021.

Inflation Drop Not Realistic

“Everytime you get to the market, you discover the prices keep on changing. You can not say you bought something of N5000 today and meet it at that same price the next time you go, there would definitely be a change”, Titi Adebayo said.

Another trader who simply identified himself as Moses said “Things are not easy. You can not make profit and be satisfied with it. The way things go up is quite disturbing for the growth of my business and since money is not available there’s nothing one can do.”

While many have attributed the skyrocketing prices to the effect of the pandemic on the country’s economy, others, including Moses, think the government can do more to support businesses.

“Policies can be made to help us. In the last regime it was not as tough as this. The government can find a way to help this increasing pricing we see when we go to the market”, he said.

Kehinde Ogunyale

Freelance Investigative and Data Journalist

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