Bountiful farm yields currently being harvested in most parts of central Nigeria have forced down the prices of food items in the markets, a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) survey has shown.
Some of NAN correspondents, who visited some retail and wholesale food markets in Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Niger and Taraba, found that the gradual, but steady arrival of fresh crops had stepped up supply and pushed down the costs of the items.
At Terminus, Katako, and Dadin-Kowa markets in Jos, for instance, NAN found that the prices of root crops like yam, sweet potatoes, cassava and cocoyam had gone down by an average of 45 per cent.
NAN found that nine tubers of yam, which used to cost an average of N3000, were sold for between N1,500 and N1,300, depending on their sizes.
The price of garri (cassava flour) was also forced down by the good farming season, with a measure of the commodity, which sold for between N380 and N400 some months ago, going for between N220 and N260.
Some farmers, food dealers and petty traders, who spoke with NAN, attributed the price differences to the bountiful farm yields and the rising interest in farming activities by government workers.
Mr Yohanna Gyang, a major farmer in Zawan, near Bukuru, explained that 2017 was generally good “for every serious farmer”.
“The rains were very kind this year; they came early and remained steady.
“The security situation has also improved, making it possible for farmers to go to their farms.
“Not long ago, it was dangerous to go to the farm. It was equally dangerous to harvest farm produce because attackers were always lurking around with guns. But peace has returned.
“Government also tried and gave us some fertiliser. Unlike previous years, the fertiliser came early this year. So, we took advantage of that to farm early and massively,” he said.
A petty trader at Miango market in Bassa local government, Mrs. Kaneng Pamzi, attributed the reduction in the prices of food items to the flooding of the markets with new farm produce “by many farmers at the same time” .
“Prices of yam, sweet potatoes, ground nut, cassava and other items that I sell, have all gone down from where we buy, that is why we are also selling them for this low prices here,” she said.
She said that the harvest season had brought in more food into the markets but with fewer buyers because civil servants, who used to be major buyers of yam, now consume their produce because a lot of them have embraced farming.
“Some civil servants, who have embraced the farming business, have also saturated the market with their farm produce; they used to be buyers, but they have joined us to beg for buyers in the market,” she said.
Pamzi expressed optimism that prices of foodstuffs would crash further as more food items flood the market.
In Minna, the situation was found to be the same with farmers and traders saying that the prices of food items had crashed due to the bumper harvest in many parts of the state.
Some of them, who spoke with NAN, said that the arrival of new yam had pushed down the prices of the commodity drastically.
Mallam Nuhu Aiyetoro, who sells at Dikko market, near Suleija, said that five big tubers of yam, which used to go for between N2,200 and N2,500, were currently sold at N1,200.
He also attributed the lowering prices to the fact that the buyers were becoming fewer.
“Many consumers do not eat yam much when it is this fresh; they seem to prefer it more when it is less watery and that will be around December or so. But, generally, the price of yam has gone really down,” he said.
He also attributed the low prices to the good harvest recorded this year.
“From what we have seen in the farms, the harvest was good. The rain was early and consistent. Farmers took advantage of it and planted early, hence the good yields,” he said.
A visit to Bariga market, Lagos, showed that there was a drop in patronage as some traders complained that they no longer make profit as they used to make daily.
The prices of tomatoes, rice and garri, which went up at the turn of the season, have not witnessed any reduction in most markets in Lagos metropolis.