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Naira rebound: Rice falls to N67,000 in Lagos, Abuja, cheaper at borders ( N42,000 at Saki)


Following the recent rebound of the naira against the dollar, the price of a 50 kilogramme bag of rice has dropped to an average of N67,000 in Lagos, Abuja, Ogun, and others, from about N90,000 in February 2024. Punch reports.

In communities close to the borders, our correspondents gathered that the staple was selling at a much lower rate compared to what was obtained in the cities.

For example, in Ogun border communities like Imeko, Idiroko, Oja-Odan, and others, a bag of rice was selling for around N49,000 or below.

According to Ms Mayowa Tosho, a bag of rice now sells for N42,000 at Saki, a border community in Oyo State.

Our correspondent gathered that the prices of foreign parboiled rice had dropped more than those of local brands.

The PUNCH reports that former President Muhammadu Buhari banned the importation of rice through the land borders in 2015.

The Federal Government, through the Nigeria Customs Service, said rice should only be imported through the seaports after the payment of all necessary duties.

In the same year, the Central Bank of Nigeria prohibited the importers of rice and 41 other items from accessing foreign exchange through the official window, to promote local production.

However, the ban on those items, including rice, was lifted by the apex bank in October. As a result, they can now access forex from the official market.

Since then, the prices of rice have continued to soar above the purchasing power of ordinary Nigerians.

Data from the Selected Food Prices Watch Report of the National Bureau of Statistics analysed by The PUNCH showed that the average price of 1kg of local rice rose from N172.74 in February 2016 to N520.84 as of February 2023.

The removal of subsidy on petrol and the floating of the naira in the middle of last year shot up the prices of food items, leading to high inflation.

As the dollar fell against the dollar, rice soared to as high as N90,000 in Lagos between February and March.

However, our correspondents, who visited various markets across Lagos, Abuja, Ogun, and others, confirmed that the food items were on a downward trend.

Selected rice sellers in Agege and Oshodi markets said the price of rice had been reduced to between N65,000 and N63,000 compared to December 2023 and January 2024, when the staple was sold between N75,000 and N80,000.

The traders, who spoke with our correspondent, noted that the long grain rice, which sold between N42,000 and N50,000 mid-last year, jumped to N80,000 in January, causing an outcry among consumers.

In Oshodi, Ogechukwu Amadi noted that she bought a bag of rice between N74,000 and N76,000 in December and sold it for N83,000 during the period.

According to Amadi, she now buys rice for around N60,000 and sells it for N63,000.

“Our purchase rate will always determine our selling price. In most cases, wholesalers usually add about N2,000 to their selling price, and this has caused non-uniformity in the prices traders sell in the market.

“In December, I was buying between N74,000 and N76,000. But I now sell for N65,000 and sometimes N62,000, depending on who sold the stock to me,” she stated.

Another trader in the Agege market, who simply identified himself as Ade, confirmed to our correspondent that the price of the 50kg bag of rice had been reduced to around N60,000.

“We can only thank God that the hardship is not as serious as it was in February. Rice practically turned gold, but we thank God today. I wish it could return to N40,000,” he said.

Similarly, the price of a 50kg bag of rice dropped in different parts of Ogun State.

Our correspondent gathered that the prices differ based on the proximity of the areas to the borders with the Republic of Benin, as communities like Imeko, Ilara, Idiroko, Ipokia, Oja-Odan, and others get the commodity cheaper.

“I bought one bag of rice for N47,000 in Ilara last week. It was close to N70,000 in February and March, even here at the border. But now it is coming down,” a trader, who identified herself as Adeyinka, said on Monday.

Mr Friday Igwe, who sells foodstuffs along Iperu Junction, Ikenne Local Government Area of Ogun State, informed our correspondent that the price of rice had dipped to N65,000, from N88,000 between February and March, while it was N55,000 in December 2023.

He, however, lamented that the prices of beans and garri had continued to increase.

“The price of rice is coming down. As of today, we sell at N65,000 per 50kg bag. Some can even sell at N64,000. It peaked at N88,000 or even N90,000 in February and March, from around N55,000 in December.

“We thank God that it is coming down now. But, the prices of beans and garri are not reducing; instead, they keep rising. The government should do something about it,” Igwe noted.

The Ebonyi State indigene noted that the high cost of food items had affected patronage, saying only a few could afford a small plastic of rice at N2,400 instead of N700 in October last year.

Another trader along Sagamu Road, Adamu confirmed to our correspondent that the price of a bag of rice was now N65,000.

“The price of rice has dropped. In February, we were selling it for between N80,000 and N85,000; but it has now dropped to N65,000. But the prices of garri and beans did not reduce,” he remarked.

In the Oja-Ale area of Iperu, Success said he could sell one bag of rice at N63,000 if the customer was ready to pay immediately.

“I can’t remember how much we sold a bag of rice for in December. But I know it went up above N80,000 last month. Some even sold for N90,000. Today, it goes for N65,000. I can still sell it for N63,000 if the customer is paying in full,” Success told our correspondent.

It was gathered that a 50kg bag of rice cost N63,500 in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, on Monday.

A resident of Oluwo, Abeokuta, Olubokola Odunayo, said she bought a bag of parboiled rice for N65,000 on April 1.

Our correspondent gathered that the reduction in the price of rice has to do with the rebound of the naira against the CFA, the currency acceptable in the French-speaking Benin Republic.

An Islamic scholar, Sulaimon Adewale, told The PUNCH that a bag of rice was N52,000 in Abeokuta last week before it jumped to over N60,000 when the naira slipped again.

Mr Igwe Christian, a food seller in the Idimu Area of Lagos State, attributed the drop in rice prices to the decrease in transportation costs due to the fall in diesel prices.

Christian maintained that a particular brand of rice that was imported from Thailand, a long grain, was selling for N70,000, compared to around N85,000 a month ago.

“The short grain is around N60,000 now, and it was around N80,000 before now.

“The reason the prices went up was because of the diesel price. And you know it is an imported goods, so the more the exchange rate for cargo clearance drops, the more the rate drops, the lower the duties paid on these goods, thereby making the commodities cheaper,” he opined.

Speaking with The PUNCH, a wholesale food seller in Isolo Market, in the Oshodi/Isolo Local Government Area of Lagos State, who identified himself as Mr Idris, mentioned that the price of a bag of rice had dropped from N80,000 in March to N66,000.

He noted that the price dropped because the naira was strengthening against the dollar.

Idris added that smugglers also buy rice with the CFA, which also rose so high against the naira in February, saying that affected the price of smuggled grains.

“Rice is being smuggled from Cotonou through the Seme border, and as the naira value depreciates, it is affecting the importation of rice, including the smuggled product. So, now that the naira has gained value, the exchange rate from the Nigerian currency to CFA is higher to purchase rice.

“The major reason it was very expensive was because of the cost of transportation and the bribes that rice smugglers need to pay some of the security agencies at these borders and bushes where they pass through,” Idris said.

At the Wuse market in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the price of a bag of ‘Pretty Lady’ brand of rice dipped to N65,000 from N70,000, while Big Bull dropped to N68,000 from N80,000 a few weeks ago.

The prices were uniform across many vendors in the market.

Experts attributed the recent price adjustments to several factors, including changes in exchange rates, supply dynamics, and government policies.

However, the recent appreciation of the naira against other currencies has likely played a role in making imported goods more affordable.

While consumers welcomed the relief, economists remained cautious, emphasising the need for sustained stability in the rice market.

At the Dutse Market in the Bwari Area Council of Abuja, a 50kg bag of Optimum rice sold for between N68,000 and N71,000, with half of the bag priced between N34,000 and N36,000, while a bag of Mama Gold rice costs N82,000, compared to the previous prices of N76,000 in December.

According to a trader, Mr Obiem, a bag of 50kg Optimum rice was sold for N42,000 last October.

“I bought this same bag of rice last October at N42,000 when I had a major family event. Now, I have to buy half of that same bag of rice for nearly the same price. If it is coming down, I can’t tell because I was charged N68,000 for a full bag,” he said.

Meanwhile, a 50kg bag of Royal Stallion rice, which previously sold for about N77,000 as of March 2024, now sells for between N80,000 and N85,000 at the Wuse International Market, while a 25kg bag sold for about N42,000.

Another customer, Mrs Angela, said she hoped that the efforts of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission to regulate prices would extend to the market.

“It is unbelievable that there is market management that does nothing to control prices. Rice has become so expensive. N80,000 for a bag? The excuse was the dollar, then. What is the excuse now?” she asked.

When our correspondent queried some of the traders on the prices of the commodity, some of them noted they needed to make up for losses due to the crash of the dollar against the naira.

“We bought these bags when the exchange rate was over N1,500 to $1. Now, the dollar is less than N1,000. If I sell at N61,000, for instance, who pays for the incurred loss?

“We are all suffering economic hardship in the country, but my business needs to stay afloat,” Chimezie, a sales apprentice at the Dutse Market, told our correspondent.

Our correspondent, who visited the popular village market in Kubwa, an FCT suburb, observed that a 50kg bag of local rice was sold for between N70,000 and N72,000.

A rice seller known as Baba Joseph, said, “Most of us here sell 50kg bag of Optimum rice for N72,000; 50kg Big Bull for N75,000 and Mama Pride 50kg for N69,000.”

He noted that rice prices were gradually decreasing, while foreign rice prices were dropping significantly.

“The prices of rice are coming down. In January, this Optimum rice was sold for N75,000 but now it is N72,000.

“It is only the foreign rice that is coming down very fast, and it is only in Lagos. In December, 50kg foreign rice was for between N100,000 and N120,000, but now, one can get it for N80,000,” the trader said.

A businesswoman at the Arab Market, Kubwa, said a 50kg bag of Nigerian rice was selling for about N67,000.

She stated that though the price of Nigerian rice was decreasing, she advised customers to be wary of counterfeit products.

She said, “Big Bull now sells for N70,000, while Optimum 50kg sells for N67,000. Though the price of Nigerian rice is coming down gradually, I advise that Nigerians need to check the kind of rice to avoid purchasing fake rice.”

In Abuja’s Wuse Market, foodstuff vendors report a slight decrease in the price of rice.

A foodstuffs vendor at Wuse Market, Idris Hakeem, told The PUNCH, “The price has dropped but not as expected. The Big Bull rice, a local rice, used to sell for N72,000 for a 50kg bag. Now, we should be talking about a drop in price to around N50,000, but it’s going for N68,000. For now, we don’t know if it will further reduce.”

Another foodstuffs vendor, Victor Chinwoba, disclosed to The PUNCH that the price of a bag of foreign rice was N68,000.

“In December, it was around N70 to 75,000. Big Bull is currently priced at N68,000,” Chinwoba stated.

Abdul Hassan, another vendor at the Wuse Market, expressed optimism, saying, “The prices of rice are coming down. For instance, foreign rice like Per Excellence was sold in December for N120,000 per 50kg. It is sold for N145,000 currently. At the beginning of the year, when the dollar exchange rate was higher, the same rice was sold for N150,000. It means the price is coming down,” he concluded.

Nigerians have since taken to social media to share the prices they were buying rice.

An X user, Okey Kingsman, shared his recent rice purchase experience, revealing that a bag of Big Bull Nigerian rice at Dalèko Market in Lagos was N69,500.

Similarly, Yemo confirmed that at the Sango Market, foreign rice was between N50,000 and N52,000, depending on the brand.

Jobi mentioned purchasing rice for N55,000 in Ojota, Lagos, while Akowonjo King reported prices ranging from N50,000 to N55,000 in the Agege Market.

Further, Olukosi Olutayo stated, “I bought mine for N55,000 in Ilorin last Wednesday.”

However, not all regions witnessed the same price trends.

Omo Obalufe expressed surprise at encountering rice priced at a staggering N75,000, indicating potential disparities in market rates across different locations.

Fearless, another X user, echoed similar sentiments, disputing claims of lower rice prices in Lagos and affirming that the price remained at N75,000 per bag.

Austyn Hasbiland, an Ogun resident stated that rice was being sold for N57,000 in the region.

Also, Patty Ebo highlighted regional discrepancies, noting, “The price drop seems to be only in Abuja or Lagos. In Asaba and Onitsha, rice is still expensive. I visited three malls last Saturday, and they sell between N83,000 and N95,000 per 50kg.”

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