Some vegetable sellers in Agege, Alimosho Area of Lagos State have blamed the recent hike in the price of pumpkin leaves locally known as ‘Ugwu’ on the rainy season.
The traders made this known in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Lagos.
Marylyn Eze, a trade at the popular Ile-Epo Market Agege, affirmed the rise in price, saying “it is a bad year for the vegetable’’.
“I affirm that the prices of vegetable, especially the popular ‘Ugwu’ have indeed risen for some time now.
“I do not really know the reason for this increase in price but we heard from the farmers that `Ugwu’ is not really doing well this year in terms of harvest.
“People still patronise us but sometimes we sell at a loss because people can no longer afford the quantity they used to purchase owing to the price hike.
“We have no choice but to reduce the quantity of the vegetable and increase the price so as to get a decent profit from the sale,” she said.
Also speaking, another ‘Ugwu’ seller who wished to be known as Madam Rosa said the scarcity of the vegetable was seasonal and that the hike in price would only come down around June 2020.
The price of ‘Ugwu’ has risen because “we are in the season for the scarcity of this particular vegetable. This price hike and scarcity is seasonal.’’
“Between June and August, we usually have ‘Ugwu’ leave in surplus because that is its season. But from September to May in the following year, we usually experience this scarcity and hike in price.
“Even when it is planted this dry season, it will not yield much, the farmers will only harvest the ones on the floor; they will not cut the stalks.
“Farmers will still ensure we have ‘Ugwu’ for sale but it will be at a higher rate in comparison to its surplus period in June.
“Our customers will have to make do with the prices and quantity until the scarcity period is over,” she said.
Christian Kalu, another seller at Iyana-Ipaja said the floods had made the farmers run at a loss hence the increase in the price of the popular vegetable.
According to Kalu, the farmers have complained that ‘Ugwu’ vegetable is scarce presently because the floods have washed away their farms.
“Since the rains started, the farmers are short in their harvest hence the current increase in the price of ‘Ugwu’. Currently we scarcely get enough to buy and sell in return.
“This scarcity does not happen every year, but this year it really hit us hard. Last year, the price of ‘Ugwu’ was high but it was still available, now we have to scout before we get to purchase.
“I buy costly and then I portion it to my satisfaction to get a profit. This scarcity may last still the end of the year, since the rains are still falling.
“A bunch we buy at N700 or N800 is now sold between N1300 and N1500. We must also factor in cost of transportation, market levies and other utility bills before we get a little profit,” Kalu said.