Inflation pushing us out of business – Traders lament persistent price hike

Traders have decried the unprecedented hike in prices of commodities., saying the market system has become so unpredictable.

Nigeria has recorded an average of about 28.2 per cent increase in the prices of major food items within the last few months.

The situation has plunged the citizens into a financial crisis fueled by hyperinflation.

A market survey carried out on food prices by HMTV across the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, and its outskirts indicated that the prices of food items have been on a steady rise in the last few months.

The food items monitored include yam, rice, beans, vegetable oil, palm oil, tomatoes, pepper, maize, onion, and millet. Others are noodles, spaghetti, sugar, wheat flour, meat, Garri, wheat, and guinea corn.

A cross-section of traders in the FCT markets and its outskirts spoke to HMTV about their experiences orchestrated by the current economic realities in their various lines of businesses.

A skin care consultant at the Mararaba market, an outskirt of the FCT, Uche Ikechukwu, said the current economic situation had almost put him out of business.

“I don’t get customers like I used to. My customers are cutting down on skincare purchases to prioritize other essentials like food and transportation, and that is affecting sales significantly. Restocking has become a daunting task as costs continue to soar,” he said.

A foodstuffs retailer in the same market, Mrs Nkechi Ubani, lamented that the increase in prices had continued to threaten her business.

She said, “I buy foodstuffs from the market wholesale and sell them. But these daily changes in the prices of items are affecting me so much that I find it difficult to buy the items.

“Do you know that three days ago I bought a carton of spaghetti for N13,000, today I was told it was N14,000. Now, when you add to the cost of each one today, by the time you return, the prices will have gone up again.

“So, you will be forced to add more money. A bag of beans is now N120,000, whereas it was N70,000 before. People are going for anything cheap now. Many families are hungry.”

A mother of two, Mrs Mede Orunmade, said the present situation had made life unbearable for her and her family.

Orunmade stated that it was as though the country was at war, adding that the hike in the prices of foodstuffs was continuous.

She said, “It has been a hard time for me and my family. The country hasn’t been in the right position for the past eight months. I have been struggling with my family to clear up our electricity bills. Coupled with the ever-rising price of foodstuffs, I don’t know if I am going to survive.

“I used to operate an online business, but it has packed up. There’s no gain on any business in Nigeria like before anymore. I am just striving to survive.

“A bag of rice five months ago was around N49,000, but it increased to N68,000. As of yesterday, my supplier said it had risen to N70,000. The cheapest thing we used to buy before, Garri, is now N2,500 for a paint bucket. It was N800 before.”

Another trader simply identified as Wunmi said, “The government needs to come to our aid now as everything is very hard. A bag of beans is now N65,000, which is three times the price it used to be. Also, groundnut oil is now N8,400 for four litres.

“This is getting too much. We hope the government will come to help us.”

Further findings by HMTV revealed that a kilogramme of Semovita, which sold for N800 four months ago, now sells for N1,200.

Some traders, who spoke to HMTV at the Masaka market in Nasarawa State, which is still an outskirt of the FCT, lamented the difficulties they were facing in purchasing items from the wholesalers with little resources.

A trader, Mrs Agnes Njoku said, “The prices of the foodstuffs are just annoying. I can no longer restock my shop because the amount of money I used to restock it to the full cannot even get a half-restock.

“Tell me, how are we going to cope with this? The worst is that no one knows when all these would end. May God help us.”

A visit to a market in Karu, a suburb of the Federal Capital Territory, showed that a 50kg bag of foreign rice was sold for N72,000 as against N51,000 a month ago.

A full bag of iron beans was sold for N110,000 as against N89,000 a month ago.

At Wuse Market in the heart of Abuja town, Nura Bala, who sells provisions, said his customers are complaining about the hike in the price of goods.

“I have two wives and six children, and we all survive on what I make daily.

“Customers are complaining about price hikes, and we too are complaining because of the prices we buy from suppliers.

“The gain is not like before and there’s no market like before. Things have gone from bad to worse. All I can say is may Allah help us,” he said.

In the same market, Muhammad Ali, who sells beans, noted that “Right now, beans are very costly in the market. The problem is not just from the market but from the main farmers. Beans started rising last year and it has continued.”

At the AMAC market, Lugbe, in Abuja, Baba Aisha, a meat seller, said prices of beef have soared.

“Our customers are complaining that meat is costly now. And we, the meat sellers, complain about not seeing cows to buy. If you eventually see, it is very costly. So, it is not our fault.

“I sold a kilogram of meat (beef) for N3,000 here last year. Now, a kilogram is N4,000. We are praying for the president that he could see Nigeria’s problem and solve it permanently, especially the way things are moving now,” he said.

A market survey conducted in Garki Market in Abuja city, showed no exception as the prices of tomato, onion and yam have skyrocketed.

A tomato dealer at the market, Saifullahi Ayagi, who spoke to HMTV, said, “We are in the season of harvesting tomatoes but instead of tomato prices decreasing, it is going up.

“When things were good, I sold a big raffia basket of tomatoes for N7,000. But the basket is now N30,000 and above as I speak,” he said.

At Nyanya market in Abuja, a mudu of white garri which previously sold for N400 is now between N600 and N700, while a mudu of yellow garri sold for N600 is now between N900 and N1000.

A crate of egg that sold for N3000 now sells between N3,800 and N4,000 depending on the size.

A trader simply identified as Mrs Margaret, who sells palm oil, lamented that she usually travels to Kogi East to purchase the commodity.

But she expressed regrets that the business is no longer profitable.

She added that by the time she calculated her expenses and subtracted the same from the cost of the items, buyers often felt cheated.

In the same vein, a trader, simply identified as Mrs Amaka, who deals in rice and beans, said the sharp increase in the cost of the commodities had affected her business capital as sales were low.

She stated that she could hardly make profit after trading.

“Mudu of rice which was selling for N800 now costs N1,700. This is because a bag of rice which cost N35,000 has now increased to N65,000. With this, we cannot make our own profit.

“This is the reason we are calling on the government to come to our aid by subsidising commodities grown in Nigeria. We are tired of low sales,” she said.

Another trader lamented that despite efforts by traders to part with some profits on goods, poor patronage had become discouraging.

“There is nothing to show for our efforts in terms of expected gains or profit,” she said.

Similarly, Mrs Adah, a vegetable trader, urged the Federal Government to address the astronomical increase in the cost of food items.

She said, ”Prices of pepper, rice, beans among others have all gone up and the hike in price cuts across every item. To worsen the situation, the government is not helping matters.

“We are pleading with the government to assist us. We are only managing to eat. The hike in the price of commodities has almost eroded our profit.”

While speaking with HMTV, a cloth seller simply identified as Mr Daniel bemoaned lack of patronage in recent times due to the hyperinflation, adding that people do not care about what to wear but what to eat.

“Everything is so difficult that people no longer live to impress but to survive.

“Any little money people get now, they channel it to food instead of buying clothes.

“I do not blame them anyway because it’s when you have eaten to get physical strength that you would think about what to wear.

“We that are selling clothes are the worst hit now because everyone is focused on food.

“Our counterparts selling food items are the ones making it now, but they too have challenges because the price of foodstuff has significantly increased by 100%,” he added.






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