The sharp increase in the price of bread, one of Lagos’ staple foods, has met with public anger among residents.
Popularly called ‘Agege bread’, the price increase ranging from 15 to about 35 percent depending on the size of the loaf, seems to be edging the food beyond the reach of the masses.
With the increase, the N100 loaf now goes for N120, N120 for N150, N150 for N200, while the N50 bread has been phased out.
‘Poor man’s meal’
An auto mechanic, Oloye Abdulfatai, who insisted that bread was a poor man’s staple, described its price increase as “wickedness to the masses.”
“Bread is our hope, but now that it costs so much and is even lighter, what is our hope and what does the government want us to eat?” He asked.
Another resident, Lukman Abidoye, explained that the erstwhile relatively low price of bread was responsible for its popularity with the public.
“Because with just N100 before, one could have a meal and be satisfied i- buying N50 bread, N40 beans and N10 ‘pure water,'” he said.
“There was no other food that you can get for N100 and be okay.”
He also noted that the recent surge in bread prices would affect all classes of people, particularly children.
“For instance, my children takes bread and tea to school in the morning, but that may be affected now,” he added.
Some residents however, also fear that the development may have far-reaching implications on the safety and health of the people.
Shamsudeen Adesina said that poverty among the youth could force them to steal.
“And bakers can also compromise safety for profit by adding Potassium bromate which has been banned in bread making,” he said.
Meanwhile, bakers and bread vendors have also claimed that their profits have been affected.
Bread vendors claim that sales have reduced, while bakers insist that the increase in the prices of flour and sugar had forced their hands.
The Assistant Secretary, Agege Local Government Branch of the Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria, Gbenga Oladipupo, said bakers’ profit had reduced by 75 percent in spite of the recent increase in the prices of bread.
He said that the price of a bag of flour had increased to N7,100 from N5,750, while a bag of sugar was now N9,000 from N5,000.
Other ingredients and overheads, according to him, have also shot up during the last few months.
“Within a year, a litre of diesel has increased from N145 to N155, a bundle of firewood has increased in the last five months from N50 to N150, while the cost of workmanship has had 100 percent increase, also in the last five months,” he said.
“So much of what should be our profit goes into making the bread.”
Who takes the blame?
Many have continued to blame the federal government for the increase in the price of bread.
Bakers claim that the federal government increased tariff on the importation wheat to force through its policy of having 40 percent cassava flour input in bread made and consumed in the country.
Meanwhile, there are claims that the necessary support for the successful kick-off of the policy had not been put in place by the government, before the tariff increment.
“Till date, the federal government has not brought in any of the new equipment that will be needed, both in the processing and blending that will produce the expected 60 percent of wheat and 40 percent of cassava in bread,” the president of bakers’ association, Bayo Folarin, was recently quoted as saying.