Notwithstanding the commencement of the harvest season, prices of foodstuffs have gone up about 40 to 60 per cent in Kano, Sokoto and Kaduna states, a market survey by newsmen has revealed.
However, in Katsina and Kebbi states, prices of foodstuffs have slightly gone down.
Traders, farmers and other stakeholders in the northern states, also gave many reasons for the nationwide hike in price of onion which has gone up by 200 percent to 300 per cent.
In Kano, a standard measure known as “mudu”, of red beans is now sold between N900 and N1,000 up from N750 in October, while white beans is sold for N800 and N950, from the previous prices of N600 and N700.
A bag of beans that was sold between N30,000 and N35,000 in October is now N37,000.
Similarly, a mudu of groundnut which was sold for N800 is now N900 while a bag is N35,000 up from its former price of N33,500.
A mudu of imported rice is now N1,500 up from the October price of N1,400 while a 50 kg bag is now N25,000 from the previous N24,000.
The survey also revealed that a mudu of local rice which was sold for N1,000 is now N1,100 while a 100kg bag is N36,000 up from N34,500.
Similarly, a bag of millet is N15,500 up from N15,000 while a bag of soya beans which was sold for N15,000 is now N16, 000.
A bag of red maize is sold for N16,000 from the October price of N15,000 while a bag of white maize is N15,000 from the old price of N14, 000.
A bag of guinea corn which was sold for N24,000 is now N25,000.
The increase in the prices of foodstuffs in Kano also affected condiments, noodles and vegetables.
A basket of tomato is now sold for N10,500 as against N7,500 in October while price of a bag of pepper has increased 100 per cent from N9,000 to N18,000.
Onion is the worst hit with the price now up by 200 per cent.
A bag of old onion, from 2019 harvest, which was previously sold for N18,000 now costs N57,000 while a bag of newly harvested onion costs between N38,000 and N40,000.
Some of the consumers expressed surprise at the sudden rise in the price of onion.
Idi Salihu, an onion seller, attributed the high cost to flooding and high cost of fertilizer during the current farming season.
Another dealer, Abdullahi Dauda, said the “price of onions usually go up between November and December because this is the time when farmers grow it”.
Price increase in foodstuffs was also recorded in Sokoto State where the cost of rice, beans and millets have gone up.
A bag of imported rice is now N24,000 while price of local rice varies from N38,000 to N40,000; millet is N16,000, guineacorn is N15,000 and maize is N14,000.
A jerrycan of vegetable oil is N16,400 and palm oil is N14,000 in Sokoto markets.
A trader, Malam Aminu Bello, expressed concern over the rise in the prices when compared to the last three months in spite of ongoing harvest period when prices of food items usually come down.
“Even during the COVID-19 lockdown, prices of foodstuffs were not as high as being recorded now,” Bello noted.
In Kaduna State, some traders attributed the price hike affecting some foodstuffs, to lack of storage facilities.
However, in the same state prices of some other foodstuffs have gone down.
A basket of tomatoes was sold at about N13,000 in October but now costs between N8,000 and N9,000.
Also, a bag of pepper which was sold at N10,000 in October is now sold between N8,000 to N9,000 across markets in the state.
Price of rice in Kaduna like in many Nigerian states is still increasing with 50kg bag of local rice between N19,000 and N22,000 depending on the quality while foreign rice is sold for N28,000.
Like in other onion producing states of the North, price of a bag of onion has gone up abnormally, from
N15,000 in October to about N60,000 in November.
Saminu Kura, a vegetable trader said that “because of inadequate storage facilities, onion storage has been a major challenge especially at this time of the year”.
“As of last year, a bag of onion was sold for N7,000; at the beginning of this year it was sold at the rate of N18,000; and now a bag is sold at about N60,000,” Kura said.
He urged the government and individuals to build storage facilities in major markets for traders to store their perishable foodstuffs.
Mallam Lawal Gora, an onion dealer who takes the commodity to Ose market in Onitsha, Anambra State, linked the hike in price to flooding and seasonal scarcity.
Similarly, an agriculturalist, Mr Elisha Victor, said the high cost of onion and tomato was caused by flooding and lack of storage facilities.
“Storage facilities are what is causing the increment, apart from that, COVID-19 and flooding also affected the production this year.
“The major onion producing states are Kano, Jigawa, Kaduna, Bauchi, Plateau, Sokoto and Kebbi and most of these areas were affected by flooding this year.
“Onion production is from February, March and April. You will find out that, in that period, we were in total lockdown and people could not have access to their farmlands.
“So, production was also slowed down, but the little ones farmers had to produce in the rainy season was destroyed by the floods.
‘’Most of the onion production is done in the dry season but farmers still produce during the rainy season but not in large scale.
“Onions don’t like too much rain, unfortunately, this year, many areas where onions and tomatoes were planted have been affected by the floods,” Victor elaborated.
Newsmen however report that prices of many foodstuffs have gone down in Katsina and Kebbi states.
In Katsina State, a survey conducted by newsmen at grains markets in Katsina, Daura, Kankia and Malumfashi, shows that the prices of maize, millet, guinea corn, beans and local rice have gone down.
Prices of vegetables such as tomato, onion and pepper have however gone up when compared to the prices in October.
The survey showed that one bag of maize, which was sold between N19,000 and N20,000 before, has come down; as it is sold between N13,000 and N15,000.
A bag of guinea corn sold previously between N20,000 and N18,000, now costs N14,000 to N16,000.
A bag of beans, which costs N24,000 to N25,000 before, is now sold between N23,000 and N22,000 while a bag of millet has gone down from N18,000 to N16,000 and N13,000.
Also, a 100kg of local rice which costs N45,000 in October, now costs about N40,000 to N35,000.
However, a bag of pepper, which cost N14,000 before is now sold at N17,000, while a big basket of tomato, which costs N3,000 to N2,500 before, now costs N8,000 to N10,000.
Price of a small basket of tomato has gone up between N3,000 and N4,000, from the old price of N700 and N900.
Not surprisingly, onion price is also very high in the state, as a bag now costs N50,000, as against the former price of N20,000 while a 50 kg bag of pepper, which costs N5,000 before, now costs about N9,000.
Malam Ibrahim Idris, a vegetable dealer, attributed the rise in prices to flooding, but expressed the hope that prices might come down if irrigation farmers recorded bumper harvest.
In Kebbi, the prices of staple foodstuffs such as rice, maize, wheat and garri have been reduced by 10 per cent to 15 per cent between October and November.
The Chairman of Foodstuff and other Essential Goods Association of Kebbi, Alhaji Umaru Dogo, attributed the decrease to the harvest period and paucity of money in the hands of customers.
“In October, we sold 100kg of local rice between N30,000 and N35,000, now we sell it between N24,000 and N26,000.
“We sold 100kg of millet between N20,000 and N22,000, but we now sell it between N14,000 and N16,000.
“As for wheat and maize, we sold them for N30,000 and N17,000, but now we sell for N23,000 and N12,000 respectively.
“Also, beans was sold for N30,000 and but we now sell for N17,000 while guinea corn which was sold for N18,000 is now sold for N16,000. And garri which was sold for N16,000 is now N12,000.
“As for groundnut, we sold for N38,000 per bag but now it is sold for N32,000,” Dogo explained.
He said financial situation in the market was stagnant as most customers bought foodstuffs on credit.
The chairman called on the state government to help farmers with soft loans to enable them transport their harvested foodstuffs to other parts of the country.
The state Chairman of Onion Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria (OPMAN), Alhaji Aminu Usman, also noted that the price of onion had gone through the roof just like in other onion producing states in the North.
Usman attributed the increase in price of onion to floods and the violence that trailed the #EndSARS protests.
“After the assessment, we have discovered that we lost 42 trailers laden with uncountable bags of onion, and 32 private and commercial vehicles, to arson and the violent incidents. And, after compiling our assessment, the loss was worth over N1.2 billion,” he said.
Usman said that, without compensation and intervention from both the state and Federal Government, over 200,000 people would be rendered jobless in the state.
“We are not relying on the government to offer us jobs; instead, we help the governments in reducing the number of unemployed youths in the state.
“In Kebbi alone, we have provided job opportunities for over 200,000 unemployed youths through onion farming related activities.
“These range from producing onion seeds, marketing the seeds, planting the seeds, farming the onion, cultivating the onion, to conveying the onion to different parts of the country, among other onion production processes,” he said.
Usman also recalled that members of the association recently lost over N2 billion to the 2020 floods, while reaffirming that the violence that trailed #EndSARS protests compounded problems of farmers and marketers in the state.
“The price of a bag of onion has skyrocketed by more than 200 per cent in the state.
“A bag of onions that was sold between N19,000 and N25,000 is now sold for N53,000, all because we have no capital to go back to our farms now,” he added.