By: Chinyere Anyanwu
Average Nigerian households are currently battling the challenge of inadequate supply of healthy, nutritious food owing to the persistently rising cost of staples. This is even as there are heightened fears that household spending in the country may hit N150.9 billion in by end of 2022.
With this development, the majority of Nigerians have continued to groan under the weight of inflation and the rising cost of living, now reducing their purchasing power and threatening them with acute malnutrition and starvation.
This is coming as Fitch Solutions, a global market and credit intelligence firm, in a recent report tagged “Nigeria 2022 consumer outlook: Elevated inflation will weigh on consumer spending” stated that, “despite the erosion of the value of the currency and associated inflation, total household spending in nominal terms will reach N150.9 billion in 2022.”
It further said, “we believe that rising consumer price inflation is a key risk to consumer spending over 2022, as it has the potential to erode purchasing power and shift spending away from discretionary spending.”
The World Bank, earlier in the year, had predicted that Nigeria may have one of the highest inflation rates globally in 2022, adding that “high inflation is eroding the purchasing power of the most vulnerable households. In the absence of measures to contain inflation, rising prices will continue to diminish the welfare of Nigerian households.” The situation, according to World Bank, will most likely push about eight million Nigerians into poverty.
The prevailing inflation and consequent rising costs are traceable to several factors, including restrictions on foreign exchange to pay for imports such as rice, wheat, and fertilizer; currency weakness; insecurity in key agricultural areas, which is driving farmers off the land and most recently, the Russia/Ukraine war, which has put a hold on the import of major staples such as wheat, edible cooking oils, among others.
Recent market surveys by Daily Sun revealed high price differences in the costs of major food items between 2021 and 2022. The survey for instance found out that Bread, a major staple in many households, witnessed a 100 percent increase in price as a loaf that sold for N650 in early 2021 is now selling for N1,300.
A basket of tomatoes, which sold for between N18,000 and N20,000 around May 2021 is now selling for between N35,000 and N40,000. A 50kg bag of locally produced rice, which went for between N19,000 and N21,000 is currently selling for N29,000. A 100kg bag of Olo2 beans that sold for N45,000 early last year is now selling for N62,000. A crate of eggs (big size), which was bought for N1,200 in early 2021 is now selling for N2,200.
With the impending food insecurity facing the country, experts are convinced that the fate of many Nigerians and their well-being will hang in the balance in 2022.
Reacting to the menace of inflation and hunger ravaging Nigerians, the Vice President, Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG), Emmanuel Ijewere, said it is a situation that is capable of causing people to sell their children for survival. He said, “this is not inflation caused by luxury foods but by the basic expenditure like food, fuel, kerosine. People’s salaries are not going up. Their take-home pay does not go as far as it used to.
You now have little money chasing fewer goods which results in prices going up. The quality goes down and the price of the foodstuff is higher. The inflation issue is impacting the quality of life of people.
“It’s going to become a desperate situation where, because of food, people are ready to do anything. They can even get to the point of selling their children in order to eat.”