Food, citizen: A bowl full of African star Apple also known as Agbalumo in Yoruba and Udara in Igbo costs two hundred and fifty naira (N250,00 only) in Owo, Ondo State South West Nigeria.
Even though the bowl is padded, you are sure to get at least 12 pieces in it. Then you marvel at how greatly endured Nigeria is.
We bought 2 bowls of agbalumo, tasting so sweet to the extent of regretting not having bought more .
Earlier on in the journey, I and co-traveller had observed an 18-seater load of agbalumo heading towards Ibadan, the Oyo state capital from Ondo State.
As we arrive Abuja, the nation’s capital, same Agbalumo is sold at one hundred naira per piece, sometimes you are lucky to get 3pieces of it at N200.
Then one begins to wonder: What brought about this price discrepancies all of a sudden within a distance of 6 hours journey? Then you begin to hear all sorts of stories .
It begins with market unions where this produce are loaded from. We are told tickets for loading fruits such as agbalumo could cost the owner of the goods as high as N40,000 .
This tickets are classified as levies for loading out any produce from the local market .
Market task force who wish to address the matter may verify this claim .
On the highway throughout the journey conveying these goods, extortions know no bounds.
From Customs Officers on the road to the Police, the Road Safety and even Army.
These Drivers are made to pay all sorts of unauthorized monies called Levies. All these then add up to the high cost of such goods at the retail Market .
The same story goes for all other Food items coming from the hinterlands to the cities across the country .
For how long should this be allowed to continue, one may ask?
Let us not forget those marketers who also like to reap where they did not sow. They take great delight in selling old stock at the rate of new prices.
Luckily, on the 8th of February, the Federal Government ordered the release of 102,000 metric tonnes of rice and maize from the grain reserves to avert the hunger already in the land from biting harder. Very good development
A strategic grain reserve is a government stockpile of grains for the purpose of meeting future domestic or international needs.
Beyond releasing Grains from sillohs, I mean food reserves across the country as announced by the Honourable Minister, Information and National orientation, Mohammed Idris on behalf of the federal government, a critical look needs be taken on the reason behind the wide margin in prices of food commodities between the local markets and to end users in the cities.
How come a cup of Ogbono for instance in Ogoja ,Cross Rivers State costs far lower than what obtains on arrival in Lagos or Abuja for instance.
At what point are the citizens themselves jeopardising the process ?
Yes ,transportation cost is a major determinant of how much these items will cost ,then what is the Government done to reduce cost of transportation .
We hear of gas powered vehicles, (but they are) yet to be implemented in full .
In the wake of the fuel subsidy removal, we hear of palliative measures also only on paper .
Iam yet to see where such palliatives are distributed publicly around town to the hungry populace.
There are some level of sabotage one would say . For instance , the level of implementation does not correspond with the policy pronouncements.
As a student of social science I know that Food Security is an essential element of National Security .
The later cannot be achieved once the former is threatened, just like it is witnessed now.
Recently the spate of insecurity in our dear country got worsened due to hunger starvation and deprivation. The adage which says an hungry Man is an angry Man is applicable here.
As a majority in the country is living in poverty, not many have the endurance spirit to bear it for too long without succumbing to seeking other shortcut.
In an earlier article, I wrote about “Neglected Northern Youths ” succumbing to Banditry and kidnapping .
However events in recent times have shown that not only the Northern Youths are neglected after all .Many citizens are in that same bracket of feeling neglected .
As for those jeopardising the food security process in the Country ,alot needs to be done to checkmate them.
For instance the excesses of the market associations, extortions on highway as well as activities of unpatriotic Citizens who take delight in hurting food stuff waiting for the price to rise before they sell .
Relevant government agencies are therefore asked to rise up to their responsibility of ensuring that this menace is put under control. Price control mechanism should also be established.
The country needs market task force now more than ever. READ ALSO:
- 16 vessels waiting to berth at Lagos ports – NPA
- Egypt bows out in 2nd round of ITTF WTTC
- Gombe govt earmarks N5.2bn for payment of retirees’ gratuities
- Trinity University to graduate 20 first class students at maiden convocation
- 2nd African Heritage Awards to hold In Lagos – Organisers
Every State has its own Market Management boards . The Nigerian people expect more from them at this crucial time .
Enough of indiscriminate hiking of local food stuffs under the guise of “dollar is high”. A lot of local food stuffs grown here ought not to be influenced by the dollar rate .
There are also reports in some quarters how locally produced rice and bagged in foreign labelled sacks and presented as imported Rice and consequently sold at dollar rate .
Palm Oil produced in abundance in many states in the Southern part of Nigeria are sold at dollar rate: Nigerian Citizens joepoadizing the Food Security and consequently the entire
Natonal Security of the country indeed .
Releasing grains from the national food reserves to the Market, yes is a very good idea ,the implementation process is also key .How will the process not be hijacked by Middlemen?
Only recently the Governor of Niger State , Mohammed Umar Bago put out a standing order saying no truck be allowed to load food stuffs out of the state .
This comes as it became evident how such truckloads of food stuffs are diverted to neighbouring countries oftentimes .
Meanwhile the 102,000 metric tonnes is said to be sufficient to last the entire country for about 8weeks , it is hoped also that the policy is met with proper implementation.
The Minister of Information and Natiinal Orientation Mohamed Idris had said as soon as the 102,000 metric tonnes of rice and grains are released “prices will crash immediately ”. While we are hoping so, we equally hope that the citizens have the purchasing power as well.
Rashidat Yusuf wrote from Abuja, Yusufrashidat12@gmail.com.