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Vendors attribute higher cost of foods to levies, fares



Fresh food dealers and retailers have identified the high cost of transportation, too many levies at various levels of government and other costs associated with rent as factors increasing the prices of the products.

Due to very poor states of rural roads, transporters charge unreasonable fares to convey farm products to cities.

Therefore, regardless of the production season, prices of fresh farm products in metropolitan marketplaces are high.

Seasonal harvests usually lower household spending on food items because of the law of demand and supply. Farmers do supply all fresh farm products to the marketplaces because they lack storage facilities or value chain development.
This often prompts excessive supply over demand at certain periods of the year. For instance, tubers of yam are usually cheaper between August and October.

However, a survey in the Lagos metropolitan marketplaces revealed that prices of these farm products are relatively too expensive.

Speaking with The Guardian, Mr Ali Suleman, a supplier of yam and potatoes in Ajamgbadi marketplace, Ojo, Lagos State, said farmers had been making things difficult for the bulk buyers, especially in the area of prices.

He said: “The formation of farmers’ associations leads to price hikes of farm products. Some farmers cannot sell their farm products without recourse to the price tag of a farmer’s association. That makes the bargaining process very difficult.”

Again, transportation fare and government levies using Agberos to collect levies from transporters is a big challenge that causes an increase in the prices of fresh foods.  The transporters transfer the cost to a food dealer or aggregator, and in turn, the dealers transfer the cost to consumers.

As a result of the foregoing, Ali emphasised that he could no longer buy a bag of potatoes at the rate of N4,500 or N5,000 as the price has increased to N10,000.

Corroborating the fact, Salihu Kehinde, a yam seller at Mile 12 marketplace, said sometimes, festive periods do influence an upward movement of prices of fresh foods. For example, during Sallah, a set of tubers of yam goes for N13,000, which costs N9000 without festive periods.

The country is by far the largest producer of yam, accounting for 70-76 per cent of the world production. Almost 60 per cent of states in Nigeria cultivate and harvest yam, but the challenges farmers face during the period of planting and harvest contribute to the expensive nature of the commodity in some states.

Mrs Chioma Onyeka pointed out that fresh vegetables are expensive because of the limited vegetable farmers in Lagos State, and some of the vegetables are transported from another state, making it expensive for the seller and consumers.

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