Subsidy removal: Food will be very expensive, say farmers
The recent increase in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, will have a negative impact on food production and drive up cost, farmers stated.
Based on this, they insisted that the market prices of food items were bound to rise, emphasising that Nigerians should prepare for an increase in the price of agricultural products of roughly 150%.
President Bola Tinubu had declared during his inauguration as Nigeria’s 16th President, on May 29, 2023, that fuel “subsidy is gone.”
In about two days after Tinubu’s declaration, the sole importer of petrol into the country, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, released a price list for PMS at its retail stations, indicating a jump in price from N195/litre to over N500/litre.
The about 156 per cent hike in petrol price was implemented in all states and the Federal Capital Territory, aside Lagos, where it sold for N488/litre at NNPCL filling stations.
The development led to the hike in the cost of various goods and services across the country.
In the agricultural sector, farmers under the aegis of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria stated that the hike in the cost of food, following the jump in PMS price, was non-negotiable.
“The situation is dire right now. Food price rise as a result of the hike in petrol price is non-negotiable. That is a reality. The issue now is, by how much or per cent will this increase be?,” the President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Kabir Ibrahim, told our correspondent.
He added, “Fuel is being sold at over N500/litre, so the fact is that once transportation increases, the prices of transport will be transferred on food. So, as people pay a lot to bring the food to where it is needed, the prices will increase.
“Therefore, I foresee a situation where the prices of food items would take the biggest hit and would definitely rise because of the increase in the pump price of petrol.”
On his part, the Coordinator of Nigeria Agribusiness Group, Emmanuel Ijewere, observed that though the cost of diesel had remained stable for a while, the rise in petrol could lead to over 100 per cent increase in food prices.
“The hike in petrol price is affecting food production and cost very negatively right now. The petrol price rise is not 30 per cent, but over 100 per cent and Nigerians should brace up to get something similar in the cost of agricultural commodities.
“Especially those food that are moved from one part of the country to the other, they will feel the impact. However, that on its own is not meant to be affected much if there is honesty, because the price of diesel has been liberalised long ago.
“So, those trailers cannot say the price of petrol has gone up, because they don’t use petrol but they use diesel. Therefore, the price of food, which they transport should not be affected, but the irony is that it will be affected,” he stated.
Ijewere explained that that was because “when the trailers put down their goods at the central place, the cost of moving it to the smaller markets, with shorter distances, will be borne by dealers who use vehicles that run on petrol”.
He said the government would, therefore, need to educate people about this, in order to avoid being cheated by transporters.
“This is because many people don’t understand what I have just said. The price of petrol has gone up, and trailer drivers will now capitalise on it to charge farmers twice or three times what they were charging before.
“So, information dissemination is key right now. The price of diesel has not changed, it has remained the same or around the same rate for a very long time. So, people should not be cheated by drivers who operate vehicles that run on diesel,” Ijewere stated.
He pointed out that another thing farmers should consider now was to start buying bicycles, rather than looking for public transport, particularly when going to farms that were not too far away from their homes.
“The government on its own should also find a way of encouraging people, because riding a bicycle is healthy and I think it is a good thing for our country,” Ijewere stated.
He, however, stated that the petrol price rise did not discouraged farmers from farming, as agricultural activities were still ongoing in many states, despite the development in the downstream oil sector.