Some fruit traders in Abuja have attributed the hike in prices of perishable food items during the Ramadan period to the role of middlemen and transportation.
They said this in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the Maitama Farmer’s Market on Thursday in Abuja.
Some of the respondents blamed the high cost of the items on the activities of who they described as “errand boys’’ that posed as third party between the farmers and sellers thereby imposing extra charges.
Mr Ibrahim Musa, a fruit seller in the market, said the price of fruits have risen during the Ramadan period.
According to him, the price of some items doubled compared to previous months before the Ramadan fasting period.
Musa explained that the prices of fruits such as watermelon, pineapple and pawpaw have increased.
“We used to buy 100 pieces of watermelon from farmers at the rate of N25,000 to N30,000 and now the price increased to between N50,000 and N55,000, depending on how you bargain.
“We buy 12 pieces of pineapple at the rate of between N8,000 and N8,500, but now the price has increased from N10,000 to N10,500.
“Pawpaw which we used to buy at the rate of N3,000 to N3,500, is now sold at N10,000 per dozen, but the prices of mango, onion and other food items remained the same,” he said.
He said that customers have complained about the increase in cost of fruits especially at the period of Ramadan.
“Most of our customers wanted to know the actual reasons for the hike in the prices of fruits, asking if there is shortage of fruits in the farm or the cost of transportation.
“But, we realised that the farm produce are available and one of the challenges we are facing is that some of the errand boys who have no business in the market always come once the goods are brought from the farm and hijack it.
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“They demand for their commission from the farmers and the buyers.
“So, one of our problems are the errand boys not the farmers and you know we are businessmen whatever we pay in the process, we add it up in the price of the items because nobody will like to lose in business,” he said.
Musa further explained that the business used to boom during special occasions, festivities and fasting periods.
“From morning to the closing hour, we use to make sales of between N350,000 and N400,000, depending on the variety of fruits in one’s shop,” he said.
On his part, Mr Yakubu Adamu expressed concern over the inability of some customers to appreciate their predicament considering the cost of transportation and activities of the middlemen in the market.
Adamu said the prices of pawpaw, plantain, pineapple and apple increased due to the activities of those boys and the cost of transportation.
“So, for me, that doesn’t have the varieties of fruits like my counterparts, I always find it difficult to convince my customers about the hike in the prices of fruits.
“Our sales depend largely on how customers patronise our shop. But at the end of market day I can realise between N60,000 and N100,000,” he added.
Malam Surajo Magaji also attributed the increase in prices of fruits to the cost of transporting goods from the farm.
Magaji said the hike in prices resulted in low patronage by their customers.
“Customers are patronising our shops but in a very low manner compared to previous years, though this is the first week of fasting, but we are hopeful the market will boom in the coming weeks,” he said.