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Nigerians Struggling to Make Ends Meet as Food Inflation Drives Up Prices



A recent examination of global consumer expenditure patterns across various countries has unveiled that Nigerians apportion a significant segment of their earnings towards food, outpacing numerous other nations in terms of grocery expenditures.

Despite attaining the classification of a lower-middle-income economy back in 2014, Nigeria, boasting the title of Africa’s largest economy with an approximate gross domestic product (GDP) of $441 billion and a gross national income per capita of $2,085 as of November 2022, grapples with a daunting statistic: over 100 million of its citizens are grappling with food insecurity.

According to data meticulously gathered by Picodi, a renowned international e-commerce organization, Nigeria stands at the forefront of the chart in grocery spending among the surveyed nations. On average, a Nigerian household channels about 59 percent of its income towards food, a figure that stands as the highest across the globe.

The ranking places Nigeria at the 105th position out of 105 countries. Other countries with high consumer spending dedicated to food and non-alcoholic beverages are Myanmar (56.6%), Kenya (56.1%) and Bangladesh (52.7%).\

On average, a Nigerian dedicates $62 per month to purchase essential groceries, translating to roughly ₦48,186, the report noted. (TNG) notes that this is about N18, 000 higher than the current minimum wage.

When juxtaposed with grocery spending patterns in other African countries, Egypt leads the pack with the highest grocery spending, where individuals allocate approximately $114 per month to cover their grocery expenses.

South Africa follows closely behind, with an average monthly grocery spending of $77, while Kenya claims the third spot, with an expenditure of approximately $74 on groceries every month.

Conversely, on the lower end of the spectrum, we find countries where grocery spending is notably lower. For instance, in Uganda, monthly grocery expenses average around $24.

Ethiopia trails closely with an average monthly expenditure of approximately $20 on groceries, and Tanzania registers the lowest grocery spending, with individuals setting aside a mere $15 per month for this essential aspect of their budgets.

In Nigeria, where grocery spending significantly contributes to overall consumer expenditure, the data casts a spotlight on the impacts of subsidy removal and the associated challenges stemming from transportation costs.

The statistics are not merely abstract numbers but translate into tangible economic realities for individuals and households in Nigeria when it comes to securing their daily sustenance.

Molecular biologist Ayan Fegem, expressed concern, stating that the cost of living has significantly escalated, and transportation expenses have soared.

Fegem said there was a need for more transparency regarding the distribution of palliatives to individual states for equitable sharing.

She queried: “Cost of living has become very high. Transportation has also become very high. What’s going on with the palliatives given to each state? What is the sharing methodology?”

Nigeria’s annual inflation rate surged to 24.08 per cent in July from the 22.79 er cent recorded in the previous month, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The NBS attributed the surge in food inflation on a year-on-year basis to price increases in categories such as oil and fat, bread and cereals, fish, potatoes, yams, fruits, meat, vegetables, milk, cheese, and eggs.

Although, the rising prices of food commodities have been a consistent concern across Nigeria in recent years, the situation has taken a turn for the worse, exacerbated by government policies, most notably the removal of the subsidy on petrol.

On May 29th, during President Tinubu’s inauguration, the decision to remove the petrol subsidy was announced.

This policy change has had far-reaching consequences, leading to hardships for many Nigerians and a subsequent uptick in the prices of essential goods and services.

In addition to subsidy removal, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) introduced measures to unify all segments of the foreign exchange (FX) market.

President Tinubu responded to the escalating food prices by declaring a State of Emergency on food insecurity in July, signalling a commitment to address the challenges posed by rising food costs.

Furthermore, he directed that all matters related to food and water availability and affordability be brought under the purview of the National Security Council as essential livelihood items.

While agriculture contributes 22 per cent of the total GDP and employs over 80 per cent of the population, smallholder farmers who are responsible for 90 per cent of food production in Nigeria lack the resources to improve their productivity because they operate in an ecosystem characterized by low productivity, high post-harvest losses, low-value addition, fragmented markets, and inefficient value chain logistics.