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EDITORIAL

Tackling rising prices of food items

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THERE is an unprecedented rise in prices of goods  across Nigerian markets but the spiking prices of food items particularly gives  concern. The  worry is about public health and social security which it can worsen.

  THIS portends danger as it poses a threat of famine. Time like this is very challenging to  society. Given the fact that a society trapped in such crisis has hunger and malnutrition as inevitable consequence, a bleak future looms if the situation is not checked on time.

  ACCORDING to the Central Bank of Nigeria statistics, year-on-year inflation figure averaged at 18.12 per cent in 2020. An inflation rate above 12 per cent is not healthy for any economy.

  EXPECTEDLY, indicators supporting economic stability have not been on the green zone since last year and any discerning mind can sense the negative bearing on Nigeria’s economic outlook.

  AGAINST this backdrop, experts’ projection of marginal contraction of  GDP to mere 0.5 per cent and consequential slight upward shift in core sub. index to 0.07 per cent on month-on-month (MoM) basis casts doubt on early resurgence of the economy.

  INDEED, the rise in food price  has remained major driver of inflation in the country. The soaring food item prices in Nigeria’s markets do not seem to find sync with the available statistics of the earnings of  the ordinary man on the street.

  MARKET survey shows that a basket of tomatoes which was sold at N2000 in February, now goes as high as N9000. A bag of 10kg wheat flour which sold at N1900 in December, 2020,  climbed to N2600 as at February and currently sells at N4000.

  SIMILARLY, a heap of average-sized tubers of yam which sold at N30,000 in February, now sells at above N90,000. Cassava flour, which has been a very affordable staple food to many homes and sold less than N300 per mound, now goes as high as N1300 per mound. The same applies to almost all  food items.

  TO COMPOUND the dangerous twixt, the purchasing power of the holder of the naira currency has dropped to an alarming level. Even when policy trust had not favoured importation of items that can be produced locally, especially consumer goods, the prevailing cost of items amid the  value of currency has not helped both the masses and the state in progressive direction.

  THE effect on individual is devastating. Those on steady income, especially workers on salaries in formal and non-formal sectors and other low income earners in the workforce now face a mountain of tasks just to meet basic needs as important as food, clothing and shelter. Many businesses have wound-down and more hungry mouths are emerging by the day.

  THE  development actually  adversely affects  all commodity prices across markets in the country. It is such that even locally produced items are not within reach of the average citizen.

  NATIONAL Light believes that despite the dark outlook, the situation is redeemable when smart and objective approaches are deployed in salvaging the already dicey situation.

  IN THAT view, interventions that will improve the purchasing power of citizens, both the high-earning class and low-wage workers alike should come into effect. The Central Bank and stakeholders in monetary policy formulation must expedite action to stabilise the naira and make business environment across industries and around country less volatile.

   GIVEN that those who bear the brunt of the situation are mostly the ones on  the very low and the middle cadres of society, it will be good if scheme where a form of bulk purchase and price regulation be contemplated by government concerned. This will break unfair and hindering monopoly and plug arbitrary profiteering by greedy investors at the expense of the masses.

  FARMERS should be encouraged to return to their farms with assurances and provision of better security.  Efficient agric loan schemes  as well as incentives to SMEs and recognitions that would lure the youth into agriculture instead of engaging in yahoo-yahoo (cyber crime) or seeking non-existent white-collar jobs or quick wealth means should be part of the plan.

  MORE so, the supply routes should be cleared of all bottlenecks to make supply of products easier to existing or newly discovered markets. Infrastructure as well as security scale-up should support this program.

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