Naomi Nguher is at the Garki market in central Abuja city shopping for her family’s monthly supply of rice.

Unfortunately, the price for the regular 10kg bag she uses has almost doubled, from 2,800 Naira (7 USD) to 5,000 Naira (13 USD).

She is now forced to buy in mudus – a term for a standard measuring cup in Nigeria.

“I came to buy rice in the market, usually I used to buy it for 2,800 naira, that is the small 10kg bag, or even 3,000 naira and it is so unfortunate that I came to the market today and it is quite high, so based on my budget of what I came to the market with, I couldn’t afford it so I have to buy in small quantity,” she said.

Higher food prices pushed up annual inflation in Nigeria last month after borders with neighbouring countries were closed in a crackdown on smuggling.

Nigeria closed parts of its borders in August to tackle the smuggling of rice and other goods.

The head of customs confirmed last month that all trade in goods via land borders had been halted indefinitely.

Annual inflation was 11.61 percent in October, up from 11.24 percent in September, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday – the highest rate since May 2018.

Consumer inflation had hit an almost four year-low in August.

A separate food price index showed inflation at 14.09 percent in October, compared with 13.51 percent a month earlier.

Naomi says sellers told her the border closure is the reason for the skyrocketing prices.

“Food items are very very expensive in the market, they are so costly in the market these days and then you see that when you go to a store they will tell you that because the border is closed and other excuses, I have been finding it difficult to manage the home lately,” Naomi said.

Shoppers told Reuters the price of many food items, particularly rice, had risen in the last few weeks.

“Everything now has added a penny, or a naira, or a thousand upward, everything in the market. Not one, even salt the cheapest and the commonest commodity has increased price and it is very very bad. We are going to a place where people will be forced to do what they ought not to do because they have to sustain their living,” says businessman, Prince Onyeke.

Sherifat Ajala, a rice wholesaler, said Nigeria’s bad roads were delaying the transportation of the grain, further preventing the supply from meeting high demand.

“Because demand is higher than supply that is why the price is going up and again, the road is not good for the trucks that brings the rice to us, at time the trucks will spend almost like two or three weeks on the road before the bring the rice,” said Ajala.

Last week the West African country, along with neighbouring Benin and Niger, agreed to set up a joint border patrol force to tackle smuggling between the nations after a meeting between their foreign ministers.

The central bank is due to set its benchmark interest rate next Tuesday. The bank, which has targeted single-digit inflation, held its main interest rate at 13.5 percent at its last meeting in September.

(Seun Sanni, Abraham Achirga, Angela Ukomadu)

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