22nd November, 2010
Indication that the price of food items may increase in Delta as ChristmasÂ approaches has heightened as fish scarcity has hit Asaba, the state capital.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the price of the commodity has alreadyÂ reacted to the development, jumping from N8,200 per carton to N9,700.
The situation has also pushed up the prices of frozen chicken and turkey with aÂ carton of chicken now selling at N7,500 as against previous rate of N6,800.
The turkey specie now goes for N8,500, up from N7,500 for a carton.
Some of the fish sellers, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said thatÂ they had never experienced such scarcity in the last 10 years.
The leader of fish sellers in Asaba main market, Mrs. Nneli Ibiagulu, suspectedÂ hoarding as reason for the scarcity, which was first noticed last week.
She said that cold room operators might have decided to hoard the commodity due toÂ prevailing speculations that fish price would be increased in January.
Ibiagulu said that fish dealers were speculating that ships had stopped bringingÂ fish into the country.
She said that in her more than 10 years in the business, â€œI have never experiencedÂ this type of fish scarcity. Our distributors in the last one week, have been tellingÂ us that there are no fish at the wharf from where they normally bring them.â€
She said that the little quantity of fish currently being sold in the city wereÂ bought in from Onitsha but at an exorbitant rate.
She added that the situation had adversely affected them.
â€œOn a normal day, when the price was stable, I sell as much as seven cartons, butÂ with the present scarcity and price increase, I hardly sell one carton now,â€Â Ibiagulu added.
Some fish consumers in the town decried the scarcity of the commodity and blamed itÂ on businessmen engaged in â€œgreat profiteering.â€
Mr. Jibem Simtua, who said he eats only fish in his meals, said that the scarcity ofÂ the item was artificial and called for government intervention.
Another fish consumer, Mr. Etim Nsa, said he had resorted to eating lots ofÂ vegetables and snails in place of fish.
Meanwhile, a cold room operator at the Ogbeogonogo Market in Asaba, who preferredÂ anonymity, said that there had been scarcity of fish for some time.
He said that he had not had stock for few months now, adding that he hoped that theÂ market situation would improve and fish available for consumers.