Home OPINION COMMENTARY Rising Prices Of Food And Dilemma Of Citizens, By Rashidat Yusuf

Rising Prices Of Food And Dilemma Of Citizens, By Rashidat Yusuf

A bowl-full of African star apple, known in Yoruba language as agbalumo and Udara in Igbo language cost N250 at Owo in Ondo State of South West Nigeria. Though the bowl is padded, you are sure to get at least 12 pieces in a bowl.
We bought two bowls of agbalumo and they tasted so sweet to the extent of us regretting not having bought more.
Earlier in the journey, I observed an 18-seater bus loaded with agbalumo heading towards Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, from Ondo State.
As we arrived in Abuja, the nation’s federal capital, we found the same agbalumo being sold at N100 per piece, and if you are lucky, you get three pieces at 200 (meaning that a bowl goes for between N1,000 and N1,200).
One then wonders why are there price discrepancies between what it is the South West and the North, a distance of barely six hours journey. You begin to hear all sort of stories, starting from market unions where the goods are being loaded from.
We are told that tickets for loading fruits such as agbalumo could cost the owner of the goods as high as 40,000 naira. Such tickets are said to have been classified as levies charged for loading out any produce from the local market .
On the high way while conveying these goods, extortions of various types know no bounds. The extortions are the handiwork of customs officers on the road, the police, the road safety officers and even army personnel. Drivers are made to pay all sort of unauthorised monies in the name of levies. Of course, all such taxes and levies add up to the high cost of such goods in the retail markets.
The same story goes for all other food items coming from the hinterlands to the cities across the country.
The question is that for how long should this be allowed to continue?
We should not forget marketers who are in the habit of reaping where they do not sow. They would take great delight in selling old stocks at the rate of new prices.
However, luckily, on February 8, the federal government ordered the release of 102,000 metric tonnes of rice and maize from the grain reserves to avert the hunger that is already in the land from biting harder.
Strategic grain reserve is a government stockpile of grain for the purpose of meeting future domestic or international needs.
After the announcement of the release of grains by the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idtis, critical look should be made on the reason why there have been wide margin in prices of food commodities between the local markets and end users in the cities. There should be a look into the reason why ogbono (sorrel), for instance, in Ogoja, Cross Rivers State costs far lower than what obtains in Lagos or Abuja.
At what point are the citizens themselves jeopardising the process?
Agreed that transportation cost is a major determinant of how much these items will cost but government should therefore, do something drastic and practical to reduce the cost of transportation of, especially, agricultural products.
One of the options can be the gas powered vehicles that are waiting to be implemented in full.
Afterall, in the wake of fuel subsidy removal, we have been made to enjoy palliative measures that has remained so far only on paper: not many have seen or experience such palliative and where they are distributed publicly around town to the hungry populace.
We should understand that while the majority in the country are living in poverty, not many have the endurance spirit to bear it for too long without succumbing to other shortcuts.

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