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

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs