Rice goes stubborn, remains stagnant at Xmas
By Orevaoghene Eredoro
It is the season of the year where there is an escalation of prices in the market. At least, that is what the average Nigerian believes. The average Nigerian believes that December especially the preparation for the yuletide (Christmas) and New year celebrations come with a climb in the price of commodities, specifically food items like, rice, chicken tomatoes, pepper, onion and other numerous condiments that grace the pot. But is this really the true situation of things? Is there a change in the price of goods? Did the price rise or fall? Could the variance of the price be as a result of the demand, or could it be the frenzy festive period and maybe, there might be other factors that influence the prices?
In order to proffer answers to the questions asked, Orevaoghene Eredoro, our reporter carried out a market survey at the Ughelli market, Ughelli to ascertain if the prices of goods particularly food items, rose or fell or remained constant.
Rice which has now become the traditional food for the yuletide celebration, surprisingly after the market survey was discovered to have remained constant. The price of a bag of rice did not rise or fall. As at October 23rd to November through to December 23rd, a bag of rice was sold for N9,000 and N8,300. Depending on the type of rice Mama Gold, Mama Africa, Royal Stallion, Sunrise all maintained their prices. Nothing changed. This is a direct opposite of what happened in 2013 yuletide season. At that time a bag of rice was sold for N12,000 to N13,000.
What could have brought this change? This could be credited to the Hon. Minister of Agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina who has been able through his commitment, encouraged local production of rice which is in a bid to stop the importation of rice by the end of 2015. Also, the release of funds by organisations and individuals like Dangote who donated one billion naira to local production of rice in Nigeria, stabilized the price of rice. In September, the Bank of Industry (BOI) in Nigeria collaborated with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) to provide 13 billion naira rice intervention fund to help boast rice production in Nigeria.
Therefore, with a boost in the local production of rice in the country, the steady supply of rice hit an equilibrium to the demand of the yuletide period, making the price to remain unchanged.
The story on the other hand could not be the same for other food items like chicken, tomato, onion, vegetable oil, carrots, cabbage and even palm oil.
Through the market survey, it was discovered that live chicken (broiler) between October and November was sold for N1,500 and N2,000. But as at December 23rd, broiler was sold for N3,000 and N3,500.
The price of a carton of gino tomato paste rose from N1600. That of promo tomato paste rose from a N1300 to a N1500.
Vegetable oil could not also tell the same story rice told as it took its turn to rise. Twenty litres of vegetable oil which was sold for N4000 climbed the ladder by an additional N300 leaving customers standing agape. Ten litres of vegetable oil refused to be left out as it decided to jump from N2000 to N2300. Four litres too made use of the golden opportunity to rise from N1,200 from N1000. Gino oil left buyers in astonishment as it sprang from N1400 to N1800.
The market survey brought to bare that those who planned to prepare salad during the celebration will have to fasten their seat belts so that they will not be blown away by the increase in the price of cabbage, carrot, green beans, cucumber and onion. The price of salad ingredients skyrocket. A kilo of cabbage which was sold for N150 sprang to N400. A kilo of carrot shot up from N300 to N500. Green beans surged from N500 to N700.
Onion broke the heart of buyers, leaving them helpless. A dozen of onion was sold for N180 to N200. But as December 23rd, five bulbs of onion was sold for N200 and N250.
Just when maybe some persons thought the demand for palm oil will not be tempered with the yuletide dragged the price of palm oil with it. The price of melon also rose even though the demand for melon was poor.
The festive season did not add or reduce anything to the price of beans. Just like rice has become synonymous to Christmas and new year celebration, beans on the other hand has become an antonym for Christmas as such, the demand for beans reduced drastically during the yuletide.
The market survey has been able to point out that the festive season to a great extent affected the demand of some food items which in turn brought about a rose in price. Albeit, it was not the same for rice as the price of rice remained constant due to the local production of rice in the country. One thing is sure, that the festive season has affected the price of things in the market.