RICE TRADERS LAMENT LOW SALES DURING FESTIVE SEASON
Despite the noise about self-sufficiency in rice production, which the Federal Government claimed has made local rice available and has enriched pockets of farmers; it was actually a bleak season for rice sellers, as they recorded low patronage, according to investigations.
From a reliable survey carried out across major markets in Lagos-Ile-Epo, Agege, Mile 2, Daleko, Ojuwoye, all in Lagos State and Sango, Ogun State, showed bags of different brands of rice and different sizes are still awaiting buyers.
Some of the reasons attributed to this include high cost, which took it beyond the reach of buyers; low purchasing power due to state of economy; late supply due to high cost of transportation and low quality of the rice.
Those who spoke described the festive season as a bleak one in terms of sales, as the economic reality of growing inflation, badly affected families, which constrained them from making purchases.
Few weeks to Christmas, the Federal Government admitted that the decision to shut the land borders was responsible for the growing inflation, insisting that the status quo must be maintained to protect the country’s economic from saboteurs.
A rice seller in the popular Sango market, Ogun State, Chisom Okoro said he has never witnessed the type of lull during festive seasons since he started business. “I have never seen such apathy, especially during festive seasons. The situation was worse as people actually stayed away from our stalls, we even tried to reduce the prices, but the situation was the same. Look inside my shop and see the goods I bought days to Christmas, I have not sold up to 40 per cent of it.
“The little patronage we enjoyed was on the foreign rice, which costs more. Despite the price that hovered around N25, 500 and N27, 000 we still sold bags. The unsold bags are actually tying down my money and I don’t even have any motivation of going to the market because I have used the money meant for other food stuffs I am selling on rice.”
In Agege, especially stalls at the Moshalasi market area through Abiola Market To Ogba, Several Bags Of Unsold Rice Are Seen Displayed In Many Shops.
Mrs. Folasade Maboreje, whose shop is situated close to the Agege motor park, lamented: “ the Yuletide season was non-existent as the mood in the market was gloomy. Most of our customers complained about high cost of rice and they stayed away. I don’t think the experience was limited to only rice sellers, it cut across foodstuff sellers. For the period, most sellers in this area simply sat in front of our stalls chatting, while those who have other businesses to do stayed away from the market.”
The situation was the same at the Daleko market, Mushin, considered as the headquarters of rice markets in Lagos. The sellers did not only complain of lack of patronage from individuals and organisations that usually buy from the market, they complained purchase did not take place.
Mr. Maxwell Jideofor, who has been operating in the market for 11 years, said the experience was not palatable.
He said: “We actually experienced good market few weeks to the festive season, and we really thought we’ll experience boom in rice sales and we invested, but suddenly the patronage ceased. I still have my stall filled with bags of rice of different brands, unsold.
“We were forced to inquire about the cause of the problem and the two things I learnt was that a lot of families couldn’t afford the high cost and shifted to other alternatives to celebrate the yuletide. The other factor I learnt was that a lot of people went for Lake Rice-the Lagos State branded rice, which is cheaper. While 50kg bag of local rice, irrespective of the brand sold for around N23, 000 and N24, 000, the same size of Lake rice sold for N17, 000, which really forced many to patronise the brand. For now, we are expecting miracle because this January seems to be worse than December.”
To Mrs. Moyosore Olawoye, the harsh economic situation was responsible for the low patronage. “In my household, we have a list of people we usually give rice and other commodities for the festive season. But the last festive season was different; we were only able to give one person, which was unusual. The portable bag of rice sold for between N1, 200 to N1, 300 rose to N3, 000. More so, a lot of people did not receive their salaries in December, some have not even received theirs till now, how were they expected to celebrate the festive season?”