Many Nigerians did not pay much attention to the Global Report on Food Crises 2022 (GRFC 2022) released in May, which claimed that Nigeria was one of the 10 countries with the highest number of people in food crises.
The report, which covered 21 states and the Federal Capital Territory, emphasized that 12.94 million Nigerians were acutely food insecure between October and December 2021.
That figure had undoubtedly risen from the last quarter of 2022, buoyed by the effects of the Russia-Ukraine war and the floods that hit the country.
Similarly, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning earlier this year that rising food prices were increasing food insecurity in emerging markets and developing economies, including Nigeria.
The world body attributed the worrying development to Ukraine’s and Russia’s reliance on food imports, leading to food insecurity around the world.
Nigeria’s imports from Ukraine, such as milk, wheat, and corn, have declined, and wheat, mackerel, herring, blue whiting, other fish products, and vaccines imported from Russia suffer the same fate.
The disruption caused by the war between Russia and Ukraine has exposed Nigeria’s reliance on these warring countries, as the war soon hit prices for staple foods and the cost of living.
In fact, Nigeria has had a significant increase in the cost of living as a result of high inflationary pressure in the last two years.
So far this year, Nigeria’s inflation rate has risen by more than 400 basis points from 15.63% in December 2021 to 19.64% in July.
The inflation rate accelerated to a new 17-year high of 21.09 percent in October, up 0.32 percentage points from 20.77 percent in September, the National Statistics Office says. (BSS).
The office stated that its Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased to 23.72 percent in October from 23.34 percent in September, while the core inflation rate rose to 17.76 percent from 17.6 percent. hundred.
A survey carried out by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in the markets of Lagos on Tuesday showed that the prices of essential foods had risen by almost 50 percent since January.
For example, a 40kg basket of tomatoes, which sold for 13,000 naira in January, has risen to 26,000 naira, while the price of a 50kg bag of Scotch Bonnet pepper increased by 50% to 21,000 naira from 14 naira. 000 in January.
Similarly, a 50kg basket of bell pepper (Tatashe) went up to N32,000 from N15,000; a 100kg basket of onions now sells for 60,000 naira from 33,000 naira in January, while 25 liters of Kings oil has risen from 22,000 naira to between 41,000 and 45,000 naira respectively.
A 50kg bag of local and foreign rice, sold for N30,000 and N33,000 in January, now sells for between N40,000 and N46,000 respectively.
A 500g loaf, which was N450 in January, has risen to between N900 and N1,000 in December, as a bucket of Garri’s custard, which was N350 in January, now sells for N1,000.
As food prices soar, the purchasing power of many Nigerians has eroded, making it difficult for them to maintain their normal standard of living.
For example, Mr. Mark Okono, a retired employee of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), which sells grains at the Ikotun market, expressed his dissatisfaction with the instability of food prices.
He said, “We have never had such a hard time in the history of this country, for food prices to go up so much. In the past, I could use N100,000 to supply my store with bags of rice (when it sold for N8,000 per bag), beans, melon, corn, millet and wheat.
“But now, with N100,000, I can only buy less than three bags. It’s crazy. And it doesn’t just end here, there’s also an offensive transportation fee to deal with.”
“It is discouraging and in the end you earn little and of what little I use a part to feed my family. I must also say that we do not eat well because with little money you cannot buy much, ”she said.
For Mrs. Philomena Opara, a resident of Agodo-Egbe, Alimosho, Lagos State, the situation is so worrying that she had to reduce the number of times her children eat, due to the high cost of food.
“Before, my children used to eat three times a day, but I have long since reduced the number of times they eat, as our food money can no longer buy enough in the market.
“I wish the government could be willing to raise workers’ wages to at least allow families to eat well,” Opara said.
To improve the plight of Nigerians, economic experts have proposed different strategies to deal with the scourge of inflation.
Prof. Hassan Oaikhenan of the Department of Economics, University of Benin, Benin City, urged households to resort to self-help by growing essential agricultural products within their premises.
“Given the increasingly difficult times, there is a need for households to manage, very wisely, the limited income that is available to them.
“Spend on necessities and tailor purchases to essential household needs, putting food high on your lists.
“There is a need to turn to cheaper but good quality substitutes, where available, in addition to growing agricultural staples such as peppers, tomatoes, okra, which can be easily produced within the facility,” he said.
He added that there was a need for creative thinking in rolling out the limited income available to households.
Prof. Lai Olurode, former dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Lagos, also urged householders to supplement food purchases with backyard farming in view of the rising inflation trend.
He advised household heads to supplement food purchases with backyard farming and survey villages around the city for markets to buy food at cheaper prices.
He also said that families should consider buying food during the harvest season and keeping it, sending money to trusted relatives in town to buy food and sending it to them via commercial vehicles.
He urged Nigerians to adjust their eating regimen to twice a day and eat less.
Uche Uwaleke, Professor of Finance and Capital Markets at Nasarawa State University, Keffi, also advised families to minimize out-of-pocket expenses.
“This is also the time to minimize out-of-pocket expenses. To the extent possible, families should prioritize spending and avoid waste,” she said.
Similarly, Prof. Ndubisi Nwokoma, Director of the Center for Economic Policy Research and Analysis at the University of Lagos, advised households to embark on cost-cutting measures in view of rising inflation.
“Overall, average nominal wages in the economy are not increasing, particularly in the public sector, and consequently real wages are falling.
“In this sense, the prioritization of household spending is very critical for survival. The way out is the consolidation of a more propitious macroeconomic environment that will lead to an increase in real wages,” he said.
To be sure, Nigerians had torrid times in 2022, and they can only hope that the conditions that skyrocketed food prices improve in 2023.
An analysis by Lydia Ngwakwe, Nigerian News Agency