Opinion: Ramadan and the unnecessary spike in price of consumables

by Mustapha Rabiu

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There’s a need for Government to put restrictions in place, because food prices are a big driver of inflation. It’s important that we maintain a properly detailed consumer price index in the promotion of consumer protection, and statistical awareness…

The other morning I was online, responding to messages from the night before and reading the news. Several people remarked on the upsurge in food prices, it was worth reading into, and writing about. Admittedly, I haven’t visited the markets in a while.

In Nigeria, we haven’t got greenhouses, or post-storage facilities, even. Every single thing grown grows in its season and is immediately carted off within days of being ripe enough for sale. And, although Ramadan is a time when Muslims fast, food consumption rises because more cook at home for their families, or give away food as a form of charity to the poor. With the sudden demand, the prices of varying food groups skyrocketed about 10 to 30 per cent.

Where many business aspects have the habit of taking a downtrend during this period, some areas, such as consumables experience a spike. The whole economic character changes.

Quoting similar sources, it’s claimed that the price of a basket of tomatoes increased by 50 per cent to almost N12,000 during the first week of the month. [There isn’t a regulatory food price index that measures week to week variations that I’ve found].

In countries like Pakistan, the prices of raw food were subsidised by about 10 per cent during the month; passing a $20 million package so as to marginalise the prices, no such kindness would be offered here in Nigeria, where even petroleum insulation is offered grudgingly, almost as though Nigerians are asking for too much, amidst haphazard electricity and pothole dominated roads.

There’s a need for the government to put restrictions in place, because food prices are a big driver of inflation. It’s important that we maintain a properly detailed consumer price index in the promotion of consumer protection, and statistical awareness, thus helping better planned spending in the country at a national level. The “food price controls” we have in place are truly unsustainable in any free market economy.

Buyers of food blame the sellers, and the sellers blame the transporters, and the transporters blame other transporters that put blame on the price of fuel, in effect blaming the government, who blames no one. And this could really be a very dangerous thing.

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Mustapha Rabiu tweets from @malign

 

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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