Yam, tomato, pepper worst hit
Food prices, especially those of yam and soup ingredients like tomato and pepper, in Lagos, are rising steadily. The reason for the rise, according to traders, is a combination of the scarcity and hike in the prices of petroleum products across the country. Some said the hike in the prices of the food items is seasonal. While many traders blamed the situation on the activities of insurgents in the North where these items are brought from, others attributed it to high cost of transportation, extra charges at the depot and shortage in supply of the goods.
When Sunday Vanguard visited the popular Ketu market, Lagos, which is the depot for tomato coming in from the North, it was observed that the prices of tomato and pepper have increased by over 100 per cent over the past two weeks. For example, a small basket of tomato previously sold for between N5,000 and N6,000 now goes for N18,0000, while the big basket sold initially for N12,000 now goes for between N26,000 and N27,000 depending on the dealers and bargaining ability. Also, a medium basket of ordinary pepper increased from N8,000 to N15,000 while a basket load of Tatashe pepper now sells for N17.000 instead of N10,000.
It was also observed that the prices of melon, yam, crayfish and stock fish are going up. For instance, a small paint-plastic of crayfish sold for N1,200 now goes for N2,500 and above, a big tuber of yam that went for N300 before the elections now goes for N600 and above.
A tomato trader at the Ketu depot, Mr. Abdulli Isa, said the problem started before the just concluded general elections, when the supply in tomato and pepper into the depot reduced drastically, such that the shortage greatly affected the quality of tomato coming into 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.
Another tomato dealer at Ketu, Mrs. Lawal, explained that, aside from the high cost of transporting the goods from the North, there are other charges associated with storing them 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”.
Meanwhile, two women running restaurants at the motor park, Ketu lamented the hike in the prices of food items, in particular tomato and pepper, saying it was affecting their business as customers were not willing to pay more money than they hitherto paid for food.
culled from The Vanguard