Food prices fall but farmers union says poor storage risks hike

A market survey by Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) shows that a full bag of onions that sold for N70, 000 now sells for N15, 000.

Prices of key food items, including onions, tomatoes and pepper, have fallen after a seasonal price surge late last year, but the farmers’ union warns of a possible repeat without improvement in storage.

The All Farmers Association of Nigeria said although many factors were responsible for the scarcity, the main problem was the lack of storage facilities to preserve food during boom.

“Onion is a seasonal food; we harvest it during the dry season. That is why there is enough onions now in the market. The price may go up again during the rainy season due to scarcity of the produce, although it may not be much like what we experienced last year,” said Nana Bashir, vice president of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria.

“Our major problem is lack of storage facilities, we experience a lot of post-harvest losses. If there are storage facilities, we can store onions and other farm produce during the boom period so as to avoid scarcity of the product in the rainy season.”

A market survey by the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism in Abuja and Lagos showed that a small basket of onions that sold for N3500 as of December 2020 now has reduced to N1200.

A full bag that sold for N70, 000 now sells at N15, 000.

Also, other commodities like tomatoes and pepper that showed price increases during the festive period have also reduced, the team also confirmed.

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A big basket of tomatoe that sold for 10,000 before now goes for N4, 500, and a 50kg bag of pepper that was N20, 000, now sells at N5000.

Prices of major food items rose astronomically last year for many reasons including flooding, insecurity and coronavirus pandemic.

The hike in prices was compounded by the seasonal rise during the December festive season.

The major onion producing states are Kano, Jigawa, Kaduna, Bauchi, Plateau, Sokoto and Kebbi.

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Traders and buyers say the prices have now fallen.
“It is good now that the price of onions have reduced. We sellers were troubled as well because we were unable to have good quantity of onions supplies that period. My onions business was put on hold, but now everybody is happy for the reduction of price,” Shamsu Deen, an onions dealer at Arab Road market in Kubwa, Abuja, said.

“Now the big bag of onions that was N70, 000, is now N15, 000; the small basket is now N1, 200 from N3, 500 or N4, 000 that was sold before.

“For tomatoes, I sell the big basket now at N4, 500, but it was N10, 000 before. The small custard container is now N400 or N500, from N1, 500 that was sold before,” Mr Deen added.

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Another onion dealer in Agege market, Lagos, Kasimu Gambo, gave similarly lower rates.

“In the last two months, a big bag of onion was sold at N70, 000, but now you can get a bag of onion from N12, 000 to N14, 000 naira. We now have onion produce in the market, but the demand is not as high compared to when we experienced scarcity of onion,” Mr Gambo said.

“During the Christmas season there was patronage of tomatoes and pepper even though the price of the biggest basket was as high as N13, 000 to N14, 000 naira, but now that it is not a festive period, the patronage is not as high as it was. Presently, there is surplus of tomatoes and pepper in the market, now a big basket of tomatoes is N4, 500 to N5000,” said another trader at Agege market, who gave his name as Mr Abubakar.

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