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79% of N’East citizens are food insecure – Report

Borno, Yobe and some states in the North East of Nigeria have recorded over 100 per cent increase in prices of food in the last two years.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows that between January, 2016 and January, 2018, and even up to last month, food prices have been skyrocketing, not just because of inflation, but partly due to conflicts in the region.

A report conducted jointly by the World and the NBS reveals that 79 per cent of households in the North East are food insecure largely due to high food inflation rate.

A Damaturu-based businessman, Mr. Bilar Lukar, confirmed to Daily Trust that prices of food items are high in Yobe and Borno and that the situation was even worst in remote or restricted areas where conflicts had made trading difficult.

Mr. Bilar said while prices of vegetables, beef and goats remain relatively stable, prices of imported food items and from other parts of the country had been on the rise in the past three years.

A resident of Maiduguri, Yusuf Tijjani, told Daily Trust that prices of food had been fluctuating in Maiduguri as a reflection of the country’s economy and not just because of conflicts.

“Prices of cash crops like beans, groundnuts and rice are always on the high side due to demand and consumption,” Tijjani said.

Nationwide food inflation rate of 19.29 per cent at April is higher than the headline inflation rate of 15.60 per cent in March, an indication that food prices have remained high despite decline in overall prices of goods across the country.

Data from NBS reveal that the price of 1kg of frozen chicken in Yobe State rose from N1,100 as at January, 2016, to N2, 600 as at January, 2018, and further up to N2, 725 as at March, 2018, translating to 248 per cent increase in two years three months.

Similarly, in Borno, the price of 1kg of frozen fish rose by 165 per cent in two years three months from N930 in January, 2016, to N1, 567 in January, 2018, and further up to N1,538 as at the end March.

In Yobe, the price of a dozen of a medium sized eggs rose from N250 in January, 2016, to N435 by the end of January, 2018, and further climbed to N520 by the end of March; an increase of N270 in exactly two years three months.

The situation is not different from the one in Borno where a dozen of eggs was sold for N248 in January, 2016, but rose to N442 in January, 2018, and further up to N485 in March.

In Borno, the price of 1 kilogram of broken rice (ofada rice) skyrocketed from N168 in January, 2016 to N370 by January, 2018 and N372 by March, 2018 while in Yobe, the price rose from N186 in January, 2016, to N355, and declined to N330 in March, 2018.

A recent report on conflict and food security in conflict areas in Nigeria conducted by the NBS in collaboration with the World Bank shows that 88 per cent of households in the North East, rely on the market as the main source of food amid high food inflation rate.

While 97 per cent of households in the North East consider there is “plenty of food available in the market”, 63 per cent of households in the region reported that price increases were the largest challenge in getting food from the market.

Twenty two per cent of households in the region blame lower agricultural production for the problem as they reported less production than last season as inputs’ prices remained high.

Giving more insight on the looming food insecurity in Borno and Yobe due to high prices, Mr. Bilar said high food price rise had been recorded in food items like rice, beans, maize, millet and yam.

“Their prices have either doubled or are getting to double in the last three years. More price increases have been recorded on imported products unlike the locally sourced food items,” he said.

He said hard hit places were restricted areas like Pulka, Gwoza, Banki, Mongono, Baga, Kala Balge, Damboa and other areas that traders found difficult to access, and that the impact of conflicts on food prices in urban cities like Damaturu, Potiskum and Maiduguri were minimal unlike restricted zones.

The report from World Bank and NBS notes that the future concern in the North East “is seeing an influx of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) moving back from refugee camps and this will increase demand for food.”

The report called on government to focus on understanding the sources of high food prices in the local markets and then use appropriate policies to tackle the problems.

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