In the earlier part of the year, I walked into a frozen food store and asked for the price kilo of Chicken, only for the sales girl to tell me that it is now N1500 per Kilo as against the former price of N1000. Really? I replied. She then went on to tell me that it was as a result of the borders closed according to the Federal government directive.
Then I thought to myself why pay for this when I can get a sizeable amount of beef for the same price. Needless to say that later bought beef to make some delicious stew. I also noticed that more people tend to go for the local substitutes of imported food items
With the boarders being closed, Nigerians are being forced to consider and buy more locally made or grown products than ever before. Particularly the Nigerian alternatives of foreign food items that are consumed regularly like rice, frozen chicken etc.
It is now a common scene to see people leaving a frozen food store to buy beef from the nearest beef seller as they are likely to get more value for their money. Little wonder the local farmers and manufacturers are smiling to the bank more than ever.
For the first time in a long while, the market is filled with so many locally grown or made goods that would never have found their way into the market. Thus making the market penetration of local produce now at its highest .
However, majority of these rice can not compete with the imported brands because of their low quality. They often get rejected by buyers as people do not want "treasure hunting" for stones in their rice while eating.
Even though producing quality rice can be quite capital intensive, it still shows that we are not fully ready for the market. Because if this border closure is lifted, some goods are automatically going to disappear from the market.
This reveals that it is high time Agripreneurs started collaborating and pulling resources together in order to produce quality products so that local agro products can dominate the Nigerian market.
Also, prices of food items including the locally grown ones have generally skyrocketed. This is simply due to the law of demand and supply. The higher the demand for a particular good, the higher the price.
But before you start congratulating the farmer on his surplus sales, here are some questions to ask. Firstly, who benefits the most out of the market situation? Is it the farmer or the middle men? And secondly who bears the brunt of the situation?
Most times, the farmer can sell at a particular price, however he or she does not have the opportunity to continue to increase the selling price as middle men do.
For instance within a few days in a neighboring market, food stuff wholesalers and retailers increased the price of a certain brand of Nigerian rice from #1500 to #2500 per yellow paint when they noticed an increase in the demand for it even when they still had it in stock.
However, the unpalatable aspect is that it is the masses that bears the brunt of this sharp increase in price.
This shows that Agri-preneurs needs to start having their own outlets and distribution channels in major markets in order to be partakers of the lion share and also sustain this market penetration and dominance even after the borders are no longer closed.
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Agricultural Economist |Blogger