Aba - Prices of foodstuffs have risen in Aba, the commercial hub of Abia, due to demand ahead of the Christmas celebrations.
A market survey by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in the area on Monday revealed that a bag of 50-kilogramme imported rice was sold at between N9 700 and N10 500 as against N8 800 at the beginning of the month.
It was also gathered that a bag of 25-kg imported rice, formerly sold for N4 300, now sells for N5 000 while a bag of 50-kg local rice originally sold at N4 800 now costs between N5 000 and N5 300.
Mr Chukwuka Oleka, a rice trader on Tenant Road, told NAN that the increase was a result of the high fares charged by transporters to convey the goods from Lagos to Aba.
He also attributed the situation to the closure of sales by most of the companies selling the commodity till January 15, 2013.
"This has prompted major rice dealers to hoard the product and the few who released their goods now sell at exorbitant rates.
"We did not just increase the prices of our goods on our own. The issue is that major companies closed sales. Any supply you see in the market was booked before Dec. 15.
"So the people who still have stocks are selling at high prices and we don’t have any choice but to buy from them and sell to our customers," Oleka said.
The survey also showed that prices of other foodstuffs and ingredients such as tin tomatoes, vegetable oil and garri had fallen at Eziukwu Market and Ahia Ohuru (new market).
Madam Adaobi Benard, a dealer in tin tomatoes, told NAN that a carton of 70 grammes of various tomato products now sold for N2 600 instead of N2 650 while a carton of the Derica brand of 210 grammes cost N8 000 as against N8 100.
Mrs Ugochi Onyeabor, a garri seller, said that a "painter bucket" of the product that sold for N650 during the recent flood disaster was now selling at N350.