Some residents of Ihiala and environs have been reacting over a hike in the prices of foodstuff in Ihiala Local Government Area (LGA), especially when a group from the northern part of the country enforced a food blockade from the North to the South of Nigeria.
During a visit to Nkwo Ogbe Market, Ihiala, it was observed that the prices of staples like yams, tomatoes, vegetables, beans, and meat recorded as much as a 100 percent hike in prices.Even after the blockade was called off, only the price of onions appears to have come down from an all-time high.
At Nkwo Okija, it was a similar situation as the prices of foodstuff were jacked up out of the reach of many.
The quantity of foodstuff coming into the state, especially from the Northern parts of the country, reduced drastically as a result of the blockade.
At Eke Mbosi, some shops were empty, while some were completely locked up; this is because, according to some of the occupants, they did not get supplies to restock their shops. Some others said that they could not afford the current price of available foodstuff.
In Uli Central Market the prices maintained an all-time high, not any different from other markets in other parts of the local government area.
A tuber of yam which used to cost N300 sold for as much as N600 even as most of those dealing in yams stayed away from the markets because they had no stock.
In an interview with some of the traders, one Mrs. Edith Nnorom a yams-seller in Nkwo Ogbe Market noted that if things continue in the current trend, she may not be able to keep-up with her yams selling business.
Another trader, Obiora Umegbolu, who sells beans at Nkwo Okija, said that a bag of beans that he used to purchase for around N40,000 now sells for N57,000.
“From the look of things, the prices may still increase in days to come, even after the blockage is called off,’’ he said.
Mr. Emma Mgbedimma, who deals in meat at the Uli Central Market, said that they hardly have been able to purchase cows these days because cows are no longer being brought in from the Northern parts of the country.
Mrs. Nkiru Ikenazor, who sells tomatoes at Eke Mbosi, said that she liked what was happening, in her words: “This will serve as a lesson to Ndi Igbo to warn them to invest in agriculture seriously.’’
“Ndi Igbo have not taken agriculture seriously; this is because they believe so much in trading in imported goods.’’
A consumer, Mr. Okey Ilokwu, who purchases meat at Nkwo Ogbe Market, opined that the Igbos should learn to invest in agriculture to overcome food blockages of this nature. He argued that if agriculture was not taken seriously, the Igbos could suffer hunger if there’s a breakup of the country.
Anambra State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Nnamdi Onukwuba in a recent radio programme called on the attention of Ndi Anambra to take to Ugbo Azuno, an agricultural practice of keeping cottage gardens.
He noted that such cottage Gardens helped a lot during the lockdown in the year 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ugbo Azuno was re-introduced in the wake of the pandemic.
“It was also a form of food production that saved many Igbos during the 30 months Nigeria-Biafra war. It saved many from starvation. I urge all to get back to Ugbo Azuno,’’ stressed the Agric commissioner.