Saturday, 15 June 2024 02:56

Hardship: Nigerians face most expensive Sallah in a generation as prices of ram, foodstuffs skyrocket  

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  • As Sallah approaches, Nigerians, particularly the Muslim faithful, will be struggling with record-high inflation, which has driven up the costs of rams, tomatoes, bags of rice and other food items.
  • A Nairametrics market survey shows that ram prices have nearly doubled since last year, and staples like tomatoes have also seen big price hikes.
  • These rising costs make it hard for families to afford traditional Sallah celebrations. This year, many may be bracing up for what could be the most expensive Sallah in over three decades.

Nigerians are bracing up for the most expensive Sallah holidays in over 30 years as prices of essential food items such as rice, tomatoes and ram hit record highs.  

Nigeria is currently experiencing its highest inflation rate in over 30 years with food inflation notching a near 40-year high. 

The country has not had things this bad in decades.   

For most Nigerians, the Muslim Eid-el-Kabir (Sallah) festive period is a time of vibrant celebrations, hearty food sharing, and generous gift-giving within their neighbourhoods.  

The homes of the Muslim faithful and local mosques come alive with the traditional slaughtering of the Ileya ram, a cherished part of the festivities. 

This year, however, Sallah might be remembered as one of the most expensive ever, thanks to a severe economic downturn and soaring inflation, which have driven up the prices of rams, tomatoes, rice and other food items across the country. 

For instance, Bakare Akinyele, speaking to Nairametrics, highlighted the challenges he faces in purchasing the Ileya ram this year.  

Akinyele, who supports two wives and six children, usually buys both a ram and a cow to celebrate with extended family and friends. 

“It’s going to take a miracle to get my hands on the traditional Ileya ram,” he lamented, noting that prices have surged past N300,000 in Lagos.  

Bakare considered sourcing a ram from the far north or north-central regions, but the cost of transporting the livestock—now exacerbated by the removal of fuel subsidies—would match or even exceed the prices in Lagos. 

For him, the dream of having both a cow and a ram for Sallah is no longer feasible. This year, he’s settling for just the essential ram, scaling back his usual grand celebration and limiting the guest list. 

“I’ve managed to save enough for the ram, but the cow is out of reach now, priced at over N1 million. We simply can’t afford that,” he said. 

A recent market survey

The troubling story of Akinyele is far from an isolated case; it echoes the harsh realities of today’s market. 

A recent survey by Nairametrics in Lagos and Abuja revealed a staggering 200% increase in livestock prices over the past year, fueled by food inflation, subsidy removal, and other economic pressures. 

In Lagos’ bustling Agege abattoir, vendors and butchers paint a grim picture. Rams that once sold for N100,000 to N150,000 now command prices between N300,000 and N400,000, marking a sharp 150% surge. 

Dare, a seasoned seller, gestures towards a medium-sized ram. “Last year, this would have gone for N100,000. Now, I can’t sell it for less than N300,000. It just doesn’t pay,” he tells Nairametrics. “Everything has gone up.” 

The story is much the same for tomatoes and bags of rice.  

In an Abuja market, a basket of tomatoes goes as high as N120,000 to 150,000.  

Ibrahim, a dealer in the pepper and tomato business, told our correspondent that a basket of tomatoes in this season can go as high as N200,000 “Most people can’t afford these things anymore,” he admits.  

Last month, the same basket would have gone for N40,000 or even less.  

Similar trends were observed in Lagos’ Mile 12, Igando, Iyana Iba, and Ayobo markets when it comes to the price of other foodstuffs.  

A bag of rice now sells between N79,000 and N90,000, depending on the type of rice one is purchasing.  

The same was observed when it comes to a paint bucket of garri which was sold for around N600 last year but is now selling between N3,800 and N4,200, with an increase of over 400%.  

Low Patronage Deflate Market Morale 

Meanwhile, Nairametrics found that not only buyers but also sellers are feeling the pinch this festive season.  

Typically, ram sellers eagerly anticipate this period as a peak time for business.  

However, this year, enthusiasm and morale seem markedly low. 

Ridwan, a seller in Lagos, shared his concerns with Nairametrics. “By now, customers ought to have been flooding this place. You should have seen them in numbers. But I guess the economy is touching everyone,” he lamented. “We hardly sell four or six rams per day here now. Believe me, it’s like the season is not yet upon us.” 

When asked about the reasons behind the spike in livestock prices, Ayodeji, another livestock dealer, pointed to the soaring cost of feed. “First, it’s the feeds. In 2023, a bag of feed for cows and rams was just N7,000. Ask anybody—they’ll tell you. But now, we buy it for about N20,000 to N22,000,” he explained. 

The combination of higher costs and decreased customer spending is creating a challenging environment for both buyers and sellers as the festive season approaches. 

High Food Inflation Dampens Festive Celebration 

According to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS), food inflation in Nigeria is above 40%,making it extra difficult for many to purchase food items. 

In a recent survey done by Nairametrics, a price of basket of tomatoes was priced as high as N150,000 in May while it sold for N40,000 in April.  

“Inflation is malignant to any economy,” Olufemi Idris, a Lagos-based economist said. “Until something is done about the high cost of food production, the malignancy will eat deep into the pocket of anyone, whether you’re celebrating Sallah or not.”  

For the president of All Farmers Association, Ibrahim Kabir, who spoke to our correspondent in a phone conversation, the problems are multifaceted. But more specifically, government interventions particularly for farmers have been remarkably low.  

“The federal government needs to invest more in farming. Whether it’s livestock or crops, the most important thing is capital. Once farmers start getting low-interest loans, they will have more money, more resources to grow their farms,” Kabir said.  

 

Nairametrics

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