The Punch

Rising cost of food!

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Daniel ighakpe, Festac Town, lagos State,

0817 479 5742; danny. ighakpe@gmail.com: “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” - Virginia Woolf.

A visit to the market in recent times, and as a matter of fact, in the last one year, reveals that the cost of food items has increased drasticall­y! Life has therefore become increasing­ly difficult for many Nigerians, especially the low-income earners, unemployed, and other vulnerable people.

For example, a market survey showed that a ‘Derica’ cup of beans, which previously sold for between N250 and N300, is now sold for between N500 and N600 or more. A ‘paint’ bucket of garri, which sold for around N350, is now sold at N1,500. A piece of yam tuber which initially sold for N500 or N600 is now sold for between N1,000 and N1,200. Even small sachets of milk, which were sold for N40 or N50, are now sold for N60 or N70. And the list goes on!

This relentless upward movement of prices is discouragi­ng to many families with limited budget. It also adds to the stress and frustratio­n of many people, making life unbearable for them. It is distressin­g to see that foodstuffs, among other things, cost more, and that taxes and utility bills of all kinds keep increasing. Something drastic needs to be done as hunger is biting hard!

According to recent data released by the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria’s inflation rate stood at 18.12% in April 2021, although it dropped a little to 17.93% in May 2021. The report also showed that the food inflation rate rose to 22.95 per cent in March 2021 compared to 21.79 per cent in February 2021. The composite food index also rose to 22.72 per cent in April 2021 from 15.03 per cent in April 2020.

The details may differ, but the story is much the same in many other countries around the world. The cost of living is rising relentless­ly. For many, bread and milk have become a luxury, and three meals a day a rarity. Rice is now usually eaten only on festive occasions because of its high cost. Those who suffer most are the unskilled labourers and poorer people, who are in no position to demand the higher and higher incomes needed to keep up with rising prices. For these people especially, inflation is a thief, a thief that robs the most needy.

Some people try to alleviate the problem by working longer hours, but others find work difficult or even impossible to obtain because of the high rate of unemployme­nt in the country. They are forced to devote each day to the unending and often fruitless task of searching for food. For them, it is not merely a question of coping with the cost of living, but, rather, a matter of struggling to meet the cost of survival. Particular­ly hard hit are those on fixed incomes such as the pensioners or the unemployed.

Who or what is to blame for this growing inflation?

Many people blame the government. One basic cause of rising inflation is when the government has been spending more money than they have been making. The government for their part may blame the economic policies of other countries.

The Internatio­nal Economic Order has also been strongly criticised. Other possible contributo­ry factors to the problem of inflation in Nigeria include: the devaluatio­n of the Naira; worsening insecurity in farming communitie­s; increase in cost of production; the government’s economic policies; the price of fuel; the national debt; reduction in productivi­ty; high taxes; increase in public spending; illiquidit­y of the foreign exchange market; high/ unfavourab­le exchange rate; rising unemployme­nt, and so on.

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