Eggs: When staple food is no longer staple

Unfortunately, egg is fast disappearing from Nigerians’ food menu list due to rising costs. One egg that used to sell for N30 now goes for as high as N150 and N200 depending on the size and place of purchase.

Eggs: when staple food is no longer staple, okeoghene akubuikeBy Okeoghene Akubuike

In many homes, eggs are a must-have in every breakfast. It is easy and quick to prepare, boiled or fried. It can be combined with many other foods such as bread, beans, or even eaten alone. They are also regulars in students’ launch packs.

Experts say egg has many health benefits, including helping to maintain a healthy skin, it is also helpful to brain health, energy production and building the immune system.

According to them, it is useful in developing strong muscles, helps eye health and helps to lower risk of heart diseases.

“The protein in eggs is useful for children and adolescents, helping to assist in their growth and development. Eggs also help older adults/senior citizens maintain muscle mass and strength.

“It is also a source of choline which helps in cellular maintenance and growth,” said Hajiya Jummai Hassan, Assistant Director, Clinical Nutritionist and Dietitians, Gwarimpa General Hospital.

Ms. Christiana Okorie, a dietician, said it was okay to eat an egg per day depending on the individual’s health status.

Okorie also said that there was no specification for the daily requirement of eggs, however, children could eat an egg daily as well as adults and there would be no negative effect on the heart.

“However, for those with high cholesterol levels, I discourage them from eating the yolk frequently, they can eat more of the egg white”, she said.

Unfortunately egg is fast disappearing from Nigerians’ food menu list due to rising costs. One egg that used to sell for N30 now goes for as high as N150 and N200 depending on the size and place of purchase.

Similarly, one crate of egg which has 30 pieces is currently sold for between N3, 500 to N4, 000 in the FCT. Previously it sold for between N100, 000 and N1,500.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Food Price Report for March 2024 said the average price of a crate of medium-sized agric eggs rose by 81.83 per cent on a year-on-year basis from N891.54 in March 2023 to N1,621.10 in March.

It further said that average price for one medium-sized agric egg increased by 67.67 per cent on a year-on-year basis from N88.22 in March 2023 to N147.92 the same month.

The NBS said that Kaduna State recorded the highest price of N169.25 for one medium-sized `agric` egg within the period under review while the lowest price was recorded in Borno at N119.48.

Chief Ichie Ezeobiora, National President, Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), says poultry industry as the most capitalised sub-sector of the country’s agricultural sector.

Ezeobiora said the poultry industry contributes over 25 per cent to the livestock agricultural Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to national economy.

He further said the sector worth over N10 trillion had provided over 10 million direct and indirect employment to those involved in the entire value chain of poultry production.

Ezeobiora said that the industry made it possible for the increased utilisation of staple crops like maize and soybeans which constitute over 70 per cent of the cost of poultry production.

Ms Joyful Samuel, a poultry farm owner, blamed the rising cost of egg on the cost of bird feeds other operational costs such as vaccination of birds and transportation of the eggs.

“We now make our own bird feed. It costs a lot of money but it is still cheaper than buying outside and the prices keep increasing.

“However, the main challenge now is the price of the materials we use in making the feeds.

“Some people go to the markets to buy these materials in large quantities and hoard them and it becomes scarce for farmers like us who want to formulate their own feed.

“Another challenge is the cost of transporting these materials for the feed and even the ready-made feed. We know how bad the economy is, the prices of everything have gone up.

” So you can relate the price increase in eggs to all these things needed for production before finally the eggs are ready,” she said.

Malam Sulieman Idris, an egg seller at Area 2 market, Garki, Abuja, said patronage had dropped because of the price increase.

“People are still buying but not like before. I have some customers who used to buy a full crate, now they buy half crate, others buy quarter of a crate while many just buy a few pieces”, he said.

Many residents of FCT say the increase in the price of eggs had left them with no option but to stop buying or buy in smaller quantities.

A civil servant and mother of three Mrs Oyiza Shehu said eggs had become unaffordable in spite of the nutritional benefits.

“I can’t afford to buy eggs like I used to. Before now I could give my children an egg every other day. Now we go a week without eating eggs. This is the sad reality,” she said.

A petty trader, Ms Mable Johnson, said she could not remember the last time she and her family ate eggs because she could no longer afford it.

“One egg is now N150 and I have four children. So it is better I use the money to buy other food items instead of buying eggs.

“My children are not happy but what can I do? Is it not better for them to see garri or beans to eat than egg?”

Mr Chuka Nwanfor, a bachelor and private sector worker, said “the last time I checked, one egg was N150 and since then I have said bye-bye to eggs.”

Mr Paul Bulus, a security man, said in the last four months he has not eaten an egg because of the price increase.

“I usually eat two eggs twice a week. But two eggs now cost N300. I cannot afford to spend that in one week on eggs alone. How much is my salary? ”

Akada Adesina, a taxi driver, laughed off questions by NAN saying “is egg food? It is difficult for me to afford rice, beans, garri, or even meat, so how will I think of buying eggs? I don’t bother with eggs.”

A housewife, Mrs Jumoke Ayodele, said: “once or twice a week I have to share one egg between my two children now so they can at least eat eggs”

Nora Paul, a professional baker decried effect of rising cost eggs on the industry.

”We use 12 to 15 eggs to bake an eight-inch cake depending on the size, while for a 10-inch cake, we use 15 to 18 eggs and for 12 inches we use between 18 to 20 eggs.”

“So you can see how much bakers spend on just one ingredient. We have not talked about flour, sugar and butter, and other ingredients that are also on the increase,” she said.

Malam Mustapha Abba, a roadside tea seller, popularly called `mai shayi` said that many customers were eating without eggs now.

“Many of my customers do not request for eggs with their `indomie` and bread again.

“Some that used to buy two eggs now buy one. They keep complaining that the price is too much,” he said.

News Agency of Nigeria.