As the popular adage says, “One cannot think well, love well, and sleep well, if one has not dined well.” The above statement simply shows how important food is to any human being. A lack of good food can affect one’s reasoning, ability to love others, and ability to sleep peacefully.
There are diverse factors responsible for the high cost of food in Nigeria; unfortunately, no one can live without food for a long time.
A lack of continuous food may not bring death in one month depending on the body weight, genetic variation, and other health considerations, but can gradually make you lose a bit of your sanity and strength.
Since you and I do not want to be in that category, I will like to expose to you, the main causes of high prices of food and the solution to this menace-causing problem.
6 Factors responsible for high cost of food items in Nigeria
Listed below are some of the factors responsible for the hike in the prices of food all over the country.
1. High cost of fertilizer
Fertilizer, which is the manure necessary for the proper growth of farm crops, was sold for an average of N141 per bag in 1985 and N200 in 1996, this amount rose to N1400 in 1997.
As at year 2000, fertilizer became 37,700 per ton, while other important chemicals such as herbicide costs 1,200 per litre and pesticides costs 534 per litre. All these important farm chemicals are about twice their price now.
It is therefore expected therefore that a high cost of planting agricultural goods would lead to a corresponding rise in the cost of food, which culminates in greater effects of poverty on many Nigerians.
2. High transportation cost
Due to the hike in fuel prices, transport operators too have to increase the cost of transporting goods in order to meet up with their operational and maintenance cost.
The addition of fuel cost to the transport service cost brings about a resultant increase in the cost of food being transported. That is why the end user / consumer feels the effect of this price.
3. Excessive Exportation
Due to high demands of food from other African countries leading to high level of exportation, grain especially has increased significantly in price.
It has been revealed that over 500 trucks of grains leave the country on a daily basis to meet the food demand of other neighboring countries.
This means that, if the remaining grains we have in the country do nor circulate properly, prices will increase on the available ones.
4. Crop disease outbreaks
There are several outbreaks affecting our farmlands seasonally, which reduces the amount of output gotten after the harvest of crop. An example of the diseases experienced by our maize is the armyworm.
This affects farmers in the southwest area a lot and has indirectly affected the price of animals depending on maize for food such as cattle and poultry animals. Other crops sometimes affected by outbreaks include rice, wheat, millet, and sorghum.
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5. Bad roads
Accessibility is one factor that cannot be ignored in this century. It helps the famer to get his seeds to the farm and helps him to get his farm produce out of the farm to markets and other destinations.
Unfortunately, our rural roads leading in and out of these farms are in a poor state. This discourages the smooth movement and distribution to places where foods are demanded, thereby reducing the number of vehicles that can willingly distribute the crops.
With fewer vehicles on the bad roads, there is a limit to supply of food and a corresponding increase in food prices.
6. Highway collection points
Several inter-state travelers like you and I are usually victims of delay whenever our buses are stopped at different points along the journey for different reasons.
Unfortunately, by the time the driver gets to his final destination, almost half of his proceeds has been distributed at collection points he passed through.
Hence, every transport operator moving goods from the farms to the markets will have no choice than to increase their service charge, which indirectly increases the prices of food too.
In the light of all these factors mentioned above, there are possible recommendations that can alleviate the hike in prices and its consequences. However, many of these decisions rests on the shoulders of the government as the national food is always a national concern.
1. Reduction in the cost of input/raw materials
There are different raw materials that goes into the planting of crops from the stage of seedling to the stage of harvest. Such raw materials include fertilizers, machinery, water, fuel for food processing and the seed or root to be planted itself.
I believe that a significant decrease in fuel price and the cost of fertilizers will make things easy for the farmers to a good extent, and the price of food will not be extremely expensive.
With this solution, the cost of distributing food to different locations will be affordable.
2. Farm Hygiene and Control – To reduce the occurrence of crop disease outbreaks. Some of the following steps could be taken – imported goods should be quarantined and farmland should be screened and declared insect free.
Government can help to build screen houses for farmers. Management of the disease can also be done by using a combination of biosecticide method and resistant crops.
It is also advisable for farmers to practice good agricultural methods; they must have good land preparation, which manages soil burn.
3. Reduction of collection points on the highway will reduce the burden on the drivers. Whether the reason for money collection is reasonable or not, it should be curbed in a sensible way that will not lead to the frustration of hardworking transport operators.
Nobody wants to work hard for money and then eventually give it to people who are so unfamiliar. I would recommend a maximum of 3 collection points no matter the length or breadth of the origin to destination is.
This should indirectly reduce the threat faced by farmers.
With the above recommendations, I believe Nigeria will be a better place in terms of food prices and in terms of agricultural practice.
Our country has a lot to depend on; we can only hope that the government will do the right thing in the soonest possible time.
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