…Some food stuffs see 300% price jump, aligning March 18.17% CPI
Ben Eguzozie, in Port Harcourt
Investigations carried out by our newspaper across some local markets in Enugu State indicate that fear by famers of herdsmen attacks in their farms has spiralled rise in the prices of local food items in the state.
Particularly, many villagers who bring their agricultural produce to the urban area no longer go to their farms, because of the occasional attacks of suspected armed Fulani herders who operate unhindered in most of the farms with dangerous weapons.
Our survey shows that some food stuffs have seen more than 300 per cent jump in their prices in the state, signalling a cost-push inflation. This aligns with the high Consumer Price Index (CPI) as released recently by the Nigerian statistics agency, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
According to the NBS Consumer Price Index, inflation rate for the month of March 2021 rose to 18.17 per cent from 17.33 per cent recorded in February 2021, representing a 0.82 percentage points higher than the February figures.
A woman trader, who trades in achicha, a local food stuff made from cocoyam, told Business A.M. in one of the markets in Enugu, that price of the food item had gone astronomically high, because the armed Fulani herdsmen took over the farms where it (achicha) is produced.
“A bag of achicha which used to sell for N50,000 today is sold for N100,000 and N150,000. The major producers of the cocoyam food stuff used in making achicha are mainly the people of Uzo-Uwani Local Government in Enugu north senatorial zone, but the farmers no longer go to their farms because of the armed Fulani herdsmen who attack them, kill the men and rape their women,” the trader said.
She narrated further that recently, vegetable farmers at Inyama River in Enugu South Local Government where all the major vegetables sold in markets in the state are produced were attacked by suspected armed Fulani herdsmen. They all women ran home. Since then, the attacks by the suspected cattle herders have had a devastating effect on the economies of the rural communities, as well as affecting the supply of such agricultural produce in our various cities.
The farmers are asking for assistance from the state government to enable them cultivate their lands and have peaceful harvests of their produce.
Enugu, a Nigerian sub-national with GDP size of over $5.86 billion according to a 2016 state’ GDP survey where it placed 25 out of the 36 states, faces rising inflation. The hilly state, which is rich in yet unexploited coal deposits joined its south-east counterparts to form a regional security outfit known as Ebube-Agu, as a remedy to the security challenges faced by citizens of the region, including the farmers.
But some of the farmers who did not want their names in the press, said they were yet to see the operation of the outfit in securing their farms.
“We are not seeing the security outfit formed by the south-east governors. Every day, our farms come under attacks by suspected herdsmen. For some months now, we can’t go to our farms to harvest our crops for fear being attacked by the armed cattle herders,” the farmers complained.