Nigerian workers and households are sapped by the rising inflationary trend in the country which rose to 31.70 percent in February 2024, up from 29.90 percent in January of this year, further increasing the likelihood of more households falling into poverty.

The associated food inflation reached a new high, attaining 37.9 percent in February, up from 35.4 percent in January according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the government agency that has the mandate to publish inflation data in Nigeria.

With food inflation higher than the headline inflation, most analysts have attributed the source of inflationary pressures to inadequate food supply in Nigeria worsened mainly by insurgency, farmer-herder clashes, as well as naira devaluation.

This is because Nigeria is said to have the second-highest malnutrition rate in the world.

“Nigeria has the second highest burden of stunted children in the world, with a national prevalence rate of 32 percent of children under five. An estimated 2 million children in Nigeria suffer from severe acute malnutrition (SAM), but only two out of every 10 children affected is currently reached with treatment. Seven percent of women of childbearing age also suffer from acute malnutrition,” according to UNICEF.

“We hold that the rising food prices are due to local supply shortfalls resulting from prolonged insecurity and large-scale sabotage, negative pass-through of high energy goods prices on logistic costs, imported inflation, as well as continued Naira depreciation (the official NGN-USD rate fell further by 9.6% to ₦1,595.11/$ at the end of February),” Afrinvest, one of the leading investment cum research institutions in Nigeria, said in a note to investors.

Some states feel the inflationary pressures more than others, a basis for which minimum salary review negotiations between the organised labour unions on the one hand, and the federal and state governments on the other hand must consider going forward.

According to the NBS, Kogi State recorded the highest food inflation in the country at 46.3 percent, followed by Rivers, 44.3 percent; Kwara and Imo, 43 percent each, and Osun, at 41.9 percent, making them the states with the highest food inflation rates in the country.

On the other hand, Adamawa, Katsina, 34.6 percent each; Abuja, 34.5 percent; Niger, 34.4 percent; Nasarawa, 33.5 percent; Taraba, 33.2 percent; Plateau, 32.6 percent and Bauchi, 31.5 percent have the least food inflation rates in Nigeria as of February 2024.

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“In recent times, there has been looting of warehouses and stores by desperately hungry citizens. Some have expected the release of grains from the strategic grain reserve to ameliorate food prices, but that did not materialize,” Financial Derivatives Company (FDC) said in a note to investors.

The rising food inflation in Nigeria has greatly impacted the ability of an average household to afford a healthy diet, as the cost of a healthy diet continues to mirror the food inflationary trend, thus increasing the risk of malnutrition at a time when disposable incomes fail to catch up with the rising food prices.

According to NBS, it cost N858 on average in January 2024 for a Nigerian citizen to afford a healthy diet. This amounted to an increase of 83.7 percent over the corresponding cost in January 2023. Foods sourced from animals, a major protein source cost the most in January 2024, attracting as much as N327 per a healthy diet. It was followed by starchy staples which cost N192 per healthy diet during the same month. Vegetables attracted N119 per a healthy diet while fruits attracted N100 per a healthy diet in January 2024.

“The Cost of a Healthy Diet (CoHD) is the least expensive combination of locally available items that meets globally consistent food-based dietary guidelines. It is used as a measure of physical and economic access to healthy diets. This is a lower bound (or floor) of the cost per adult per day excluding the cost of transportation and meal preparation. The National average Cost of a Healthy Diet was N858 in January 2024,” NBS said.

The highest cost of a healthy diet was recorded in the south west geopolitical zone, where it cost N1,045 per healthy diet, representing 22 percent above the national average.

The region with the least cost of a healthy diet in January was the North West geopolitical zone, where Nigerians in this part of the country only needed N683 to get a healthy diet, 20 percent lower than the national average price of N858.

Six states recorded over a thousand naira to get a healthy diet in January 2024, according to the NBS. The most expensive state to get a healthy diet is Osun State, south west Nigeria, where it costs N1,089.80 per healthy diet. Ekiti State was second with N1087.09 per healthy diet. It was followed by Ondo, N1062.77; Anambra, N1049.26; Ogun, N1031.55, and Lagos, N1023.04.

Sokoto, N685.08; Jigawa, N676.31; Kano, 649.10; Niger, 629.32 and Katsina, N628.75 had the least cost per healthy diet in January 2024.