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Prices of foodstuff, tomato, fruits soar

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Tomato traders displaying their wares at Olomore market, along Lagos-Abeokuta Road, Abeokuta, Ogun State. PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI<br />

Prices of tomato, pepper, fruits and other food items have increased tremendously in the last one-week across major markets in Lagos, Ogun, Oyo States and beyond, as the Ramadan commences, according to findings.
 
Surveys in Bodija, Ojo and Sango markets, in Ibadan, Oyo State show that prices of tomato and pepper have increased by 100 per cent, taking the commodity beyond the reach of some people.

For instance, a small tray of tomato sold for N50.00, has increased to N100.00; likewise Scotch Bonnet pepper (Atarodo), of the same size, increasing with the same percentage.

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Findings show that a medium tray of big pepper (Tatase) and Chilli pepper (Sombo), sold for N100.00 is now at a flat rate of N200.00, at the Bodija market.
 
In Ile-Epo and Oja-Oba markets in Lagos State, The Guardian learnt that prices of both tomato and pepper also increased by 100 per cent, especially tomato, which is now scarce.
  
A survey at Mile 12, Oke Odo, Oyingbo and Iddo markets, Lagos, reveals that a 40 kilogramme (kg) basket of tomato, which cost N5, 000 two weeks ago has risen to N12, 000.
 
Similarly, a 50 kg basket has risen to N12, 000 from its previous price of N6, 000; 50 kg chilli pepper costs N9, 000 as against N5, 000, while a basket of scotch bonnet pepper costs N13, 500 as against N9, 000.
 
Conversely, a small size foreign apple, which sold for N50.00 a week ago has increased to N70.00, while orange sold at two for N50.00 is now three for N100.00.
   
Also, a bag of onion decreased from N15, 000 to N13, 000; 25-litres of palm oil dropped from N9, 000 to N8, 200 and five litres vegetable oil cost N2, 400.

Also, a bag of beans (Olo 2), which had been stable since March declined to N16, 000, as against N17, 200.

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A tomato seller at the Bodija market, Alhaja Abike Fagbemi attributed the development to high cost from the wholesalers, noting that aside the rising cost of transportation, the Ramadan season always lead to increase in prices, especially of food stuff.
 
“This is something beyond us, what we got from our customers from the North is higher now, especially tomatoes in the last two weeks. We would have loved to maintain the price regime but we can’t operate at a loss. We are doing this to remain in business pending the time the Ramadan will end.”  
 
The Country Manager, HarvestPlus Nigeria, Dr. Paul Ilona told The Guardian that the development is artificial, not because there is scarcity of food in markets: “We must first understand the concept of buying and selling, noting clearly that one of the underlying factors is profit and then the role the environment plays in affecting demand and supply.”
 
According to him, the increase in demand for food because of the need for household members to eat breakfast together happens during the Ramadan fast, unlike before where people eat individually. “It compels you to have your breakfast, which creates a pull for the purchase of certain food items.
 
“Two, when you provide resources to children to purchase their foods, it reduces the burden of food consumption at home, but because the food is produced at home, consumption of food is higher, leading to high price of food commodities, and naturally prices of commodities will increase.”
  
Ilona noted that tradition and culture are always hard to erase in a system because “people see the period as opportunity to make sales and profit.  A transporter moving pepper from Kano to Lagos will know there is pressure and will hope to capitalise on that to make his profit, since the period has been associated with increase in prices of food commodities.
 
“Women cooperatives could also cause the increase by agreeing a general price increase during the period. It is multifarious; the increase in price is artificial, not because there is not enough food in markets. What people in agric ought to do during the period is to take advantage of the opportunity by looking at ways to cultivate more at such periods to get more money.”

   
 


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