In this post we look at the factors responsible for high cost of food items in Nigeria as well as possible solutions to these problems.
Other than the oxygen in air which is a free gift from God, food is also required for the normal functioning of the human biological system. The importance of food to man cannot be overemphasized nor ignored. Food when metabolized and digested in the body provides the calories of energy which is required for our daily activities.
But then, not all foods exist or get cultivated as a single plant. What this means is that food is a mixture of other components called food ingredients or food items.
For the attainment of the various health benefits conveyed by food, the food must be balanced. It must contain all or most of the major classes of nutrients.
If the food items which keeps our meal balanced thus fulfilling it’s duty as food are not within our reach, or too costly for people of lower income to procure, then it becomes a problem not only for a single household but the entire nation.
Nigeria is a country blessed with good soil for agriculture and water supply but what then are the factors which facilitate the increase in cost of food items? The answer to this question is what we will consider in this article.
Factors Responsible for High Cost of Food Items in Nigeria
The following under listed and explained factors are those which play significant role in the high cost of food items in Nigeria.
1. High Cost of Transportation
The process of food production does not end when the crops yield fruits, leaves, seeds, tubers or when the processed food has been successfully canned. The food production process ends when the food gets to the final consumers.
Transportation is required in order to move the food items from the farm or industry to the warehouse and then to the wholesalers who then distribute them to the various retail stores in the nation. There are other sub factors which contribute to the high cost of transportation. These factors could be considered independently as follows
2) High Fuel Prices
Trucks and vans don’t run with water, they require processed crude oil either petrol or diesel to run. Now, when this important factor is either costly or scarce; of course fuel scarcity escalates fuel price. The increase in fuel price will lead to a substantial increase in the price of food items.
3) Bad Roads
If the driver who is to convey these finished food items to the various geographical areas of the country realizes that the road connecting those areas are in bad condition, he will take the cost of vehicle repair into consideration thereby charging more for the transportation. This has a direct way and every likelihood of reflecting on the price of such items.
4) High numbers of Collection points
Drivers have to settle some personalities on their quest of transporting these food items. These settlements are not in kind but in cash. Now, if a driver has to settle those personalities from his own pocket, then he has to charge an amount which will cover the amount he will expend because of this particular factor. Just like every other factor, this shoots up the price of such item.
5) Heavy Traffic Congestion
You may want to ask what business traffic congestion has with high cost of food items but surprisingly, it plays a role too as will be explained here. If a driver who used to make at least three goods transportation a day is then asked to transport items from a location whose road has heavy traffic congestion. He knows that he won’t be able to make up to 3 transportation a day because of the heavy traffic.
He will likely want to cover up for the lost chances by charging a high fee for the particular job. This will contribute to an increase in cost of the transported item.
In summary, it can be seen that whatever contributes to high cost of transportation will also cause the increase in price of the conveyed item. This is because a manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer or farmer won’t accept to run at a loss in order to feed the nation so, he or she will take the cost of transportation into consideration and this explains why some items are cheaper in one area but costly in another.
6. High cost of farm maintenance
Be it animal or plant, money is required for their maintenance. In crops, the farmer has to fight pest through the use of pesticides. Nutrients have to be supplied to the plants in the form of fertilizers, labour forces and other factors. For animals, diseased animal must be treated, bedding must be changed and other factors involved sorted out.
If the cost of these materials: pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers or medications are high. It will likely cause an increase in price of the food items.
7. Tax and import duties:
If the import duties or tax on raw materials required for food production is high, the item’s price will increase.
8. High Export Rate:
In an interview with Minister Lai Muhammed on the cause of high cost of food items, he explained that there is so much demand on our grains and cereals from other parts of Africa and that the farmers can’t be stopped especially because of ECOWAS protocols which allows free movement of goods and services. He also stated that the country got over N30 billion from agricultural export in the second quarter of this year. If there is this high export rate, then there is no doubt about its effect on the high price of food items.
9. High Cost of Fertilizer
Fertilizer is avery important farm input uses to supplement or complement for the deficiencies in the soil.
Fertilizers have experienced a gradual increase in price right from the 90’s till date. This increase in price is quite unfavourable to the farmers as it has an indirect on depreciating the value and yield of grown crops.
An increase in price of fertilizer is expected to cause an increase in price of the harvested crop or fruit it was applied to.
10. Crop Disease Outbreak
Disease outbreak in either crops or livestock require a lot of money to control and treat. In some cases, despite the administered therapy, the farmer still unfortunately suffers some loss in crops and livestocks. This will also contribute to the price at which these items are sold.
RECOMMENDATIONS WHICH CAN REDUCE HIGH COST OF FOOD ITEMS
Since we have successfully pointed out those factors that escalate the cost of food items, let’s now see the possible remedies that can be administered
1. Factors that cause high transportation rate should be tackled and solved. Fuel prices should be stabilized and at a rate which will favour the masses.
Roads leading to these areas should be repaired and made conducive for human passage. Collection centres should be reduced to at least 2 or 3. This will help to put less load on the drivers and thus cause minimal fee for transportation.
Flyovers or alternative roads should be provided for areas known for high traffic congestion. Foot bridges should be constructed to ensure pedestrian safety.
2. Government should provide subsidy for vital materials required for food items cultivation. These could be pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides etc. Fertilizer is currently being subsidized by the government so Kudos for that.
3. Taxes and import duties should be lifted on raw materials which are indispensable in the course of production.
4. Government should come together with farmers and set an export limit for food materials.
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