Fuel scarcity, poor harvest occasioned by flooding, and the planned re-designing of Naira Notes, have combined to trigger panic-buying of food items in most states of the Northwest.
Checks by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaduna, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Kano and Katsina states, reveals that the rush for the items has resulted in near-daily increase in prices.
This development is unfolding in spite of the fact that the last quarter of every year is the harvest season when agriculture produce are supposed to be cheap.
NAN observes that dealers engage in bulk purchase for the purpose of hoarding in anticipation of hyper- inflation which, from all indications, may likely set in during the next few months, if the current indicators are anything to go by.
Malam Hassan Dankasuwa, a trader in Sokoto, said prices of foodstuffs were increasing on a daily basis, attributing this development to scarcity of commodities in the market.
“Shops in the market that usually supply foodstuffs and other commodities, are half empty.
“The increase in exchange rate of Naira to other foreign currencies, as well as the scarcity of the latter, did not help matters because the largest number of our commodities are purchased from Niger Republic.
“Sometimes, even if you have enough Naira to purchase the needed foreign currency, the traders in Niger Republic are rejecting the Nigerian currency to avoid incurring loses in view of the impending redesigning of the Naira, effective Nov. 15,” he said.
Another trader, Malam Danladi Bello, was of the view that the current hike in prices was abnormal, and that sabotage of government’s laudable efforts at ensuring food security, could not be ruled out.
“We are all aware of how the government at the centre continues to initiate measures to ensure food security and reduce poverty.
“Some people view such commitment as a threat to their business ventures, and therefore, plan to create more hardship,” he alleged.
Bello acknowledged that hike in prices of commodities before and during festive periods as a result of increase in demand was normal, but insisted the current situation was abnormal.
In Katsina State, residents also expressed concern over the astronomical hike in prices of grains, sparking panic-buying by some dealers.
An investigation conducted by NAN in some major grains markets like Dandume, Dayi and Charanchi, indicated that prices of maize, guinea corn, beans, millet, soybeans and rice, were increasing daily.
NAN reports that people are concerned because the abnormal increase is coming at a time when some farmers have just harvested their maize, millet and soybeans, while guinea corn and beans are still in farms in some parts of the state.
NAN price survey in the state indicated that a bag of maize, which was sold at N18,000, few days ago, now costs N22, 000 and above.
A bag of guinea corn costs N16, 000, as against the former price of N14, 000; price of a bag of beans rose to N32,000 as against the previous N29, 000, just as the cost of a bag of millet rose to N20,800, as against N18, 000.
The survey further revealed that 100kg bag of paddy rice sells for N20,000, as against N15,000 few days ago
Alhaji Haruna Muhammad, a grains dealer, said that although price hike was not a new thing, the timing for the current astronomical increase, was frightening.
“We saw some people in Dandume market buying the grains in large quantity, which is unusual; people are saying that the rush was triggered by the policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to redesign Naira notes.