A Recurring Ritual

A market woman

Consumers of fruits and food items groan as prices experience sharp increases attributed to the Ramadan fast and the deteriorating security situation in some northern states

|  By Chinwe Okafor  |  Aug. 4, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

KEMI Olagunju, a trader, is deeply worried over the growing increases in the prices of food items and fruits at the Mile 12 market in Lagos state. The situation, according to her, is becoming unbearable. What is most disturbing is that a small pineapple that sold previously for N200 is now between N300 and N350. Most times, pineapples are not even seen in the market. “Every time the Muslims observe the Ramadan fast, prices of fruits and food items increase astronomically, while some of the other items become unaffordable. We are then left with no option than to buy the food items at the prevailing high costs,” she said.

Ginika Madu, another housewife, said that before now, she used to buy a small-sized tin of beans for between N180 and N200 but that the price has increased to N250. Even though the increase in the prices of the food items is very sharp, we must eat especially as health experts advise us to take fruits and balanced diet at all times,” she said.

The sharp increases in the prices of fruits and food items are said to be the aftermath of the ongoing Ramadan fast, which started on June 28, 2014 and would last for 30 days. A visit to most of the food and fruits markets in Lagos reveals a sharp increase in the prices of fruits which are majorly consumed by Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan. Apart from fruits, the prices of other basic food items like beans, yam, pepper, tomatoes, oranges and water melons have also gone up.

Adenike Abiodun, a fruit seller in Oke Odo market, said the price of a dozen of big sized water melon had increased from N6,000 to N7,000. According to her, a trailer of water melon from Arewa village in Sokoto was sold between N250,000 and N350,0000 and most times, the Mallams transporting them to the South would fill the trailer with small sized water melons and dress up the top with only few big ones especially around this time. “We have to sell what we buy to cover our costs in order not to run at a loss,” she said.

A tomato seller
A tomato seller

Uju Akunnia, who sells tomatoes and pepper at the Cele Express Market, said sharp price increase were not new to retailers and consumers during the Ramadan period. According to her, a big basket of tomatoes, which sold for N7,500 before the Ramadan is now sold for N11,500, while a bag of chilli pepper popularly known as tatashe that was sold for N10,000 now goes for N12,000. “We are used to this increase in the price of food commodities in this part of the world because it has always been like this even before I joined the business”.

She added that the hike in food items around this period was because most of the items were brought in by northerners who are mostly Muslim faithful and when they fast, there is less work because they concentrate more on spiritual matters during the Ramadan. According to her, the insurgency in the northern part of the country has also contributed to the problem.

Rukayat Abiodun, a food stuff seller, said she was unable to buy the two bags of rice she usually buys because of the price increases. “I could only buy a half bag of rice and beans to resell, whereas I usually buy two bags on a weekly basis to resell. It is because of Ramadan that food items are expensive and it is usually like that since most of the foodstuffs we sell come from the North. We also resell at the price they give to us in order to make profits,” she said.

Nafisat Ajibade who owns a groundnut oil and rice depot is not also comfortable with the price increases. She told Realnews that a bag of rice of various brands now sells between N7,700 and N8,800 compared to the cost price of N7,400 to N7500 before now. She said the hike in the price of groundnut oil has nothing to do with the Ramadan, saying, it was only coincidental. She said since most of the food items come from the northern part of the country, it was the security situation rather than the Ramadan fast that was responsible for the sharp increases in in the prices of fruits and food items.

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