By Ademola Babalola in Ibadan
About one million master bakers in the country may soon close shops over the hike in the prices of bread baking products like flour, sugar, salt, margarine and yeast, the National President of Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria (AMBCN), Chief Bayo Folarin, said weekend in Ibadan, Oyo State capital.
Folarin, flanked by the zonal chairman of the body in the South West, Alhaji Habibulahi Aboluwole and other state officials from Oyo, Lagos, Ogun and Osun states like Mr. Kolawole Fifo, Alhaji Lateef Ilesanmi, Evang. Oluyinka Adejare and a host of others, said bread, a staple food for every family, may soon go off the streets except the federal government brings down high levies and duty being paid by the importers of the products.
As a form of palliative to cushion the effect, the members who spoke one after the other appealed to the owner of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, to come to their aid as prices of materials used in making bread is daily on the increase.
Folarin told reporters during a press briefing that it was important for the business mogul, whose companies supply most of the materials used in the production of bread, to personally intervene by bringing down the prices because according to him, it was becoming difficult for them to remain in business. He warned that if Dangote and the Federal Government refused to help bakers, bread could go off the street soon in Nigeria.
“For instance, as at December 2015, a bag of flour was N6,500 today it goes N10, 500. Also, a bag of sugar, which was sold for N10,500 in January is now N15,000 in the South-West, while it is being sold for N17,000 in the South-East and in the North. The same applies to a carton of yeast, which formerly sold for N11,000, it now goes for N16,000. How do we cope with all these high prices? It is difficult for us to remain in business and in fact, some of our members have gone out of business.
He said, “We are appealing to the Federal Government to intervene in the poor fortunes of our naira against the dollars so that the exchange rate will be favourable to bakers in Nigeria. The price of raw materials, which include wheat flour, sugar, salt, margarine, edible oil and yeast are soaring at an astronomical rate.
“We therefore appeal to Dangote to allow bakers to have access to direct buying of salt and sugar by crashing their prices. He has done it before and he can do it again for the sake of suffering masses and interest of the baking business.”
Folarin also warned that his members could halt production in the light of the present economic hardship, adding that with the way things were going in the country, bread could vanish from food chain.
“We don’t want to embark on strike because we are employers, we could withdraw our services if things don’t change for the better,” he said.