With the recent closure of Nigeria’s land borders by the Federal Government, which has reduced smuggling across Nigeria’s international borders by over 80 per cent,
scarce local rice is now available in Lagos markets but is selling at over N20, 000 per 50 kg bag.
This is coming as foreign rice, which was the most smuggled food item from Nigeria’s next neighbours, Benin Republic, Niger Republic, Chad and Cameroon; is now difficult to be smuggled into the country sequel to the ‘Exercise ‘Swift Response’ which is now over one month old.
The foreign rice which used to flood the markets in spite of the ban on importation of rice through the land borders is now scarce in most of the markets visited.
However, while the brands are different, one thing in common among them is the price, which was on the high side, though with slight differences.
The prices range from N19, 500, N20, 000, N21, 000 and N22, 000 per 50 kg bag depending on the market and brand.
In view of this, some of the consumers spoken to in the markets said that local and available foreign rice has suddenly become a ‘big man’s’ food as an average Nigerian now struggles to get it as a result of the exorbitant price.
At Mushin Market, Mr. Victor Eze, who is a foodstuff dealer in the market, spoke the increase in the price of the produce, he said, that 50kg of local rice is sold at N19, 500, N20, 000 depending on the brand.
According to him, the increase in price started about a month ago and as they continue to run out of their old stock of foreign rice, the price of the local rice continues to increase. He disclosed that even Customs officers have continued to patrol the market in recent times to seize foreign rice, if they see any in the market.
He said, other markets, he heard the Customs officers have visited severally in the last two weeks, includes Iddo and Onyigbo markets.
Also speaking, Mr. Chukwuebuka Ogbonna, a foodstuff seller at Iyana-Ipaja Market, disclosed that Eboyin Rice now sells at N19, 000 in the market in the market, adding that the rice is in short supply in the market.
He disclosed that he is selling his old stuck of foreign rice at the price of N24, 000 per 50kg bag, adding that the scarcity of local rice in market is also what led to the increase in price.
Also, speaking, a crayfish seller in the market, Mr. Victor Eze, said that the cost of crayfish last week was N18,000 ‘one measurement’ a bag, the ‘one measurement’ now sells at N25,000 while painter-bucket sells at N2,000 and derika N500.
According to him, a 100kg bag of beans now sells at N25, 000 in the market, as against N18,000 it was sold two weeks ago, while a paint-bucket measurement sells at N1,000 and derika N200.
Commenting on the price of plantain in the market, Mr. Olamide Aliyu, a plantain dealer in Idioro Market, said that this is the season of plantain. They sell in bunches or ‘heads’, and customers are expected to pay ‘land money’ in addition to the money they paid for any purchase they made, which is the 10 per cent of the total sum of any purchase they made.
The land money goes for those that sell the plantains while the main money goes to the owner of the plantains as the sellers are not the real owners of the plantain and that is how they too make their own money.
The plantains are displayed in six bunches irrespective of the size, the only thing is that it is the size that determines the price of the plantain and as such, six bunches is sold at N1,500, N2,000, N4,000, N10,000, N20,000 respectively.
Also speaking, Mrs. Ngozi Onyechefula, a yam dealer in Idioro Market, disclosed that the price of yam in the market is determined by the species.
According to her, ‘Ada Ontisha’ yam sells at N600 and N800, the average and big tubers. Also, ‘Afuru’ yam known as Yoruba yam, sells at N600, N700, N1000, according the size. She said that they are expecting the Benue and Abuja yams to start coming in any moment from now.
According to Mrs. Imoh Veronica who sells Garri in Idioro Market, the Benin Gari is sold at N4, 800 per bag 40kg bag and the Edo Gari sells at the rate of N4, 500 of the same measurement. Bende Gari sells at N4, 500, N4, 600 and Yoruba Gari at N5, 000, N6, 000 for 50kg.