Bread bakers in Kano state, under the auspices of Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria, Kano chapter have said that increase in the price of flour has left them with no option than to increase the price of bread for their business to survive in the state.
Speaking to journalists in Kano on Friday, Secretary of the association, Kabiru Abdullahi said the decision was due to increase in the price of flour and other ingredients used in making the bread.
According to him, the association could take both decision to shutdown business and subsequently increase the price, but in order not to render thousands of youths jobless wich could be a threat to peaceful coexistence of the state, they will decide to increase the price in the near future.
Abdullahi blamed the federal government for its failure to respond to their appeals for intervention to bring lasting solution to the problem.
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He said the association has provided jobs to thousands of youths in the state and contributes tremendously to food security, but there are problems that pose danger to the business but the government has not done anything to save it.
The secretary pointed out that after painstaking efforts to continue with the business without increasing the price of bread, despite the hike in the price of flour, the market forces have compelled the association to take the decision, otherwise its members would always be at a loss.
He disclosed that the association had tried severally to meet with the managements of the flour companies in a bid to bring down the price, but their efforts were unsuccessful as the mills cited COVID-19 as the reason why the meeting could not hold.
He wondered why the price of flour was N9, 000 from late 2019 and early 2020 when the dollar exchange rate was N400 or above, but it has now reached over N16,000 while the dollar rate is still not more than N500.
He said IRS flour, made by BUA, which had been scarced at market, is the most expensive product among other brands.
While calling on Abdussamad Isyaku Rabiu, the Chairman of BUA Group of Companies to reduce the price of his flour product, the Secretary also called on him to improve the supply of his product in order to be available at market.
He said ” I have many appeals to Abdussamad. Firstly, he should improve his production in order to make his product available in the markets.
“Secondly, I call on Abdussamad to ensure that the price of flour is reduced. The issue of flour price increase goes hand in hand with exchange rate. The price of flour was N9, 000 from late 2019 and early 2020 when the dollar exchange rate was N400 or above, but it has now reached over N16,000 while the dollar rate is still not more than N500. If you look at the increment, it is about 50 percent.
” I want to draw the attention of Abdussamad to consider the plight of the masses and reduce the price of the flour. He should also open door for us, the bread bakers to be doing business directly with his company.
“The reason why I said this, I have been in this business for many years, but I have never seen a Product Support or sells representative from BUA in my bakery. No sells representative ever came to sensitize me on BUA products or show me the easier ways to her the BUA products,” the secretary complained
He however disclosed that after holding a general meeting on Wednesday, the association had directed its members to meet with the grassroot bakers in ten days time in a bid to come up with a unified price increment that would not have negative impact on the populace in the state.
“After our general meeting, we directed our members to intimate the grassroot bread bakers in a bid to come up with a unified price increment that would not affect the masses negatively. We asked the members not to shutdown their businesses, they should continue production until 10th of July,” he said.
Abdullahi appealed to the government to look into the flour milling industry because, according to him, Nigeria exports wheat more than rice, noting that the employment opportunity created in the sector is much just higher.
He cautioned the government not to allow the business to collapse as it is a source of income to thousands of youths in the state, saying “in this security challenges, allowing our business to collapse is dangerous.”
On his part, a baker, Abubakar Bello Ja’en, who is the manager of ABJ Bread, said the business is encountering a number of problems, majorly the increase in the price of flour.
He disclosed that the association had informed them that there would be no strike, but they must increase the price of the bread in order to save their businesses.
He said the decision to increase the price is not the preferred choice of the association, adding that the bakers wanted the price of flour to reduce than to increase the price of bread.
He revealed that his bakery amd others are using IRS of BUA company more than other products, saying “but it is the most expensive. It has now reached up to N16, 700.”
“Let me use this opportunity to call of Abdussamad to consider the plight of people to reverse the price of the flour. People are suffering. We don’t want to increase the price of the bread. It’s against our wish,” he said.