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Border Closure: A Look at Some Food Prices on the Rise

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In a bid to curb smuggling and the influx of contraband items into Nigeria, the Federal Government, in August 2019, shut the country’s land border thus blocking access to goods from African countries namely – Benin, Niger and Cameroun. Today, we look at some effects of the Border closure.

Without mincing words, the move has recorded some gains in the area of proper assessment of items that do make it into the country, however, it has also led to an unreasonable hike in prices of some items.

Our findings show that the hike has not only affected foreign brands but it also influenced the prices of local products due to the law of demand and supply.

Below are some of the items affected by the recent border closure.

· Rice

Rice happens to be the most consumed grain in Nigeria, and the annual rice consumption in Nigeria is steadily seeing major increase.

The demand for this item is so high that retailers sometimes run out of stock. Much of the rice Nigerians consume are imported from Thailand, India, Vietnam, etc. This is a narration that the border closure stands to address.

To a large extent, the culture of ‘Produce what we eat’ and ‘Eat what we produce’ is gaining a lot of ground among Nigerians, but the implication is becoming unbearable to some as well.

Before now, a 50kg bag of foreign rice used to sell for N15,000, but it now goes for between N20,000 and N23,000. The most amazing thing is that our local rice are now sold for a small fortune.

A visit to Ile-Epo market confirmed this, as a 50-kilogramme bag of foreign rice is being sold for N22,500, while the locally-grown brands which used to sell for N10,000, now goes for N16,500. This is a 65% increase from the old price. The implication for retail buyers is that a small paint rubber of rice now costs between N2000 and N2,200, instead of the N1000/N1100 for which it was previously sold.

· Frozen Chicken

This is another food item that is largely consumed by Nigerians. From homes, to local food vendors, to fast-food joints and to Hotels, Frozen chicken is in high demand. Although, poultry farming is a widespread practice in Nigeria,  the demand seems to be higher than what our local chicken processors can handle, hence leading to over-reliance on foreign/imported chicken. The border closure has since crumbled that over-dependence.

Findings reveal that frozen foods appear the most affected; a kilogramme of frozen chicken, which sold for N1,200, now costs N1,600, while a kilogramme of frozen turkey now sells at N1,700, a whopping N400 above its former price.

But the border closure also affected the price of local chicken. Orobo Fryer, a local frozen chicken, commonly used by fast foods and other restaurant operators, which sold for between N800 and N900 per kilogramme, now costs 1,200.

· Baking Flour

There is no gain saying that flour is one of the most consumed food items or ingredients in the country and many parts of the world. From bread and cookies to donuts and pizza, flour basically never runs out of use.

Although, its price in Nigeria is always a cause for concern, it is obvious the border closure has added to it.

Our correspondent who visited Agege market confirmed that a small paint rubber of flour that was sold for between N350 and N400 before is now sold at N600 or N650. What this is likely going to birth is a reduction in the size of donuts, eggroll, etc or an increase in their prices.

· Vegetable Oil

A lot of our delicacies are prepared with either vegetable oil or groundnut oil in our cooking. These cooking oils are the mainstay of many Nigerian kitchens. From frying egg, meat, fish and plantain to making stew, jollof rice, spaghetti and several other meals common to Nigerians, there is so much that groundnut and vegetable oil are used for.

While these items are also produced in the country, we still to a large extent, rely on their importation. You will recall that before the border closure, these products were largely imported or smuggled into the country, causing their market availability and price stability; attributes the border closure has now distorted.

From our visit to Ile-Epo market, we discovered that a 3litre can of Power Oil that sold for N2100 before, now goes for N2350. We also discovered that a 4Litres of Wilson Oil now sells for N4,000, that’s a N400 difference from its initial price, as it was formally sold for N3,600. Obviously, this border closure is taking a big toll on our food items.

· Apples

Another food item that is feeling the heat of the border closure is Apple. Over the years in Nigeria, the demand for apples has largely been driven by the increasing preference for fresh fruit over processed fruit from a growing middle class.

Statistics even indicate that Nigeria imported 1,882 tons of apple in 2011, 7,857 tons of apple in 2012 and 32,317 tons of apple in 2013 – all from South Africa

Due to Nigeria’s weather conditions, the country does not produce apples, this then means the only way to get this fruit is through imports.

Just like every other imported goods / food items, the price of Apple is definitely going to be affected by government’s policy on border issues or imported goods.

Our correspondent who took a stroll to BG Mart and Ebeano supermarkets, both in GRA, Ikeja, found out that a small size of apple that was sold for N50 before now sells for N100, while what was previously sold for N100 now goes for N150. A check on some kiosk sellers further confirmed this, as all the prices tallied.

Non-consumable goods like cars, electrical appliances and household furniture are also feeling the heat of the directive.

Although, the Nigerian government has stated that it would not re-open the border until the purpose for its closure is achieved, Nigerians are no longer convinced that this is the right way to go, as the hike in food prices is becoming unbearable.

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