The SBM Jollof Index: Mountain climbing

23rd November 2023

Food security in West Africa remains a critical issue, influenced by internal factors like conflict, inadequate policies, and climate change, as well as external factors such as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine War. As of September 2023, Ghana’s food inflation rate stood at 49.3%, while Nigeria’s reached 30.64%, underscoring the severity of the situation.

The Nigerian food security landscape has been marred by significant challenges over the past eight years (2015-2023), with food inflation soaring from 9.2% in January 2015 to a staggering 21.82% in January 2023. SBM Intelligence’s Jollof Index, which has been monitoring changes in food prices by using the cost of making Jollof rice for a family of five, also jumped from a national average of ₦4,087 in July 2015 to ₦13,106 in September 2023—a staggering 220.7% increase.

The average price of preparing a pot of Jollof rice rose from ₦12,504 to ₦13,106 between June and September, and the price gap between the most and least expensive markets is ₦5,620. Wuse II market ranks as the priciest, where preparing a pot of Jollof rice costs ₦15,900 in September while Onitsha remains the most affordable market at ₦10,280.

Food prices in the Northwest experienced a panic surge. There was a significant price hike in the Northeast between June and July, followed by a slight decrease in August and another ascent in September. The North Central Jollof Index maintains its status as the region with the highest cost of making a pot of Jollof rice. Price hikes were observed across all markets in the Southwest. In the Southeast, food prices saw varying trends between July and September. In the South-South region, the Jollof Index recorded a steady, albeit modest, price increase from June to September in all markets.

In Ghana, the data spanning June to September 2023 shows a downward trend in the cost of preparing a pot of Jollof rice for a family of five. In June, the cost stood at 317.5 GH₵, slightly dropping to 315.5 GH₵ in July. In August, there was a significant reduction to 277.75 GH₵, which continued into September.

Comparing the prices of Ghanaian and Nigerian Jollof rice, the official rate for the Nigerian Jollof was slightly higher than the black market rate and significantly lower than the Ghanaian Jollof price in June. July saw Ghanaian Jollof become more expensive at its peak than Nigerian Jollof at both the official and parallel rates. By September, the Ghanaian Jollof price had decreased closer to the Nigerian official rate yet remained higher than the Nigerian black market rate.

Addressing food security in Ghana and Nigeria is paramount for attaining meaningful economic development in these countries. The intimate link between food security and economic growth cannot be overstated, as a well-nourished population forms the foundation for a productive and thriving society.

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