News / Africa

    Soaring Ramadan Food Prices Take Toll in Northern Nigeria

    Sellers at Abuja's Utako market say they charge more for products during Ramadan because farmers charge more, Nigeria, July 2013 (Heather Murdock for VOA).
    Sellers at Abuja's Utako market say they charge more for products during Ramadan because farmers charge more, Nigeria, July 2013 (Heather Murdock for VOA).
    Heather Murdock
    Food prices are soaring in Nigerian cities as Muslims stock up on traditional foods for the evening feasts that follow daily Ramadan fasts.
     
    In a country where most live in abject poverty, many are paying as much as six times the normal price for many food items.
     
    But in the country's predominantly Muslim and already impoverished north, where regional instabilities linked to the presence of the Islamist rebel group Boko Haram are ongoing, soaring costs have left many especially vulnerable.
     
    Outside a market in Kaduna, one shopper says holiday season's increased prices have further impoverished many, as sellers know that customers are willing to pay higher prices in order to make particular preparations for Ramadan feasts.
     
    “They feel that people are in need of these products so they inflate the prices," one shopper said. "It is very, very obvious. ... For example, when you want to buy fruit like your pineapples or your oranges and your things for breaking the fast, you see people inflating the prices.”
     
    But some sellers say the increased prices reflect inflated costs that farmers charge during the holy month.
     
    In Abuja's Utako market, fruit peddler Umar Mohammad says that he pays about 30 percent more per watermelon during Ramadan, forcing him to increase prices in order to make a profit.
     
    "[I do] not blame the farmers for hiking prices at the only time of year people will pay more," he said. "Most of them are desperately poor."
     
    Regardless of who is responsible for the increased prices, Khalid Aliyu Abubakar, secretary general of the Nigerian Islamic umbrella organization Jama'atu Nasril Islam, says northern residents can't withstand the pressure of increased poverty amid the ongoing insurrection.
     
    “It is unbecoming when somebody utilizes the opportunity to suck the blood of the common poor people," he said. "Therefore let the prices go down."
     
    James Sako, Kaduna state marketers’ union vice chairman, agrees, explaining that price spikes amid the Islamic holidays only aggravate the local tensions that too often fall along religious boundaries.
     
    Last summer, for example, more than 100 people were killed in Kaduna city after three churches were razed, sparking violence between Christian and Muslim youth. While most northerners are Muslim and southerners Christian, Nigerians of both faiths live side by side in every city.
     
    "Both the Christians and the Muslims go to the same markets," Sako said. "When a customer buys something [and] he knows that the price has been skyrocketed, he will buy it with grudges."
     
    Two weeks into the month of Ramadan, with the yearly urban price surge in full swing, some shoppers take solace in humor, joking that they might be better off living in a village, eating what they grow because of their money’s diminished market value.
     
    But for too many others, the inflated prices are no laughing matter.
     
    Ibrahima Yakuba contributed to this report from Kaduna.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: wah
    July 24, 2013 12:50 AM
    Last summer, for example, more than 100 people were killed in Kaduna city ................ Just wanted to point out that there is no summer in Nigeria. Perhaps you should a little homework before publishing.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora