The Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria has condemned the increase in the price of locally-produced and imported wheat flour in the country.
Mr Joseph Ubah, National Publicity Secretary of the association, revealed in Abuja on Thursday that high cost of wheat flour had forced over 50 percent of the country’s bakers out of business.
He said that price of a 50kg bag of wheat flour, which formerly sold at between N5,700 and N6,700 in 2016, was now between N11, 000 and N11, 200, depending on its brand.
He said that the high cost of wheat flour had consequently affected bread prices, adding that a loaf of bread, which sold for N200 in 2016, now cost N300.
Ubah said that the development had induced the dismissal of more than one million youths, who were hitherto employed by the affected bakeries.
He urged the government to boost local wheat production via the provision of improved seedlings, mechanised farm implements and fertilisers to wheat farmers, among other inputs.
He warned that if nothing was done to urgently address the issues relating to the high cost of wheat flour, more bakers would be forced out of business within the next six months.
“The price of wheat flour has affected the price of our produce. We have adjusted our price about three times between 2016 and now; from 10-per-cent increase to 35-per-cent increase.
“If you look at the scale of the increment in the price of wheat flour, it is almost 100 per cent and it is affecting our business.
“I will suggest that for the wheat farmers to be happy and also be in business, the government should come out with a workable policy on wheat cultivation.
“The policy should encourage government partnership with wheat farmers directly, without the intrusion of middlemen.
“Government should also liaise with wheat farmers to subsidise the cost of seedlings, fertiliser and mechanised equipment, among others, so as to boost their productivity.
“There has been a progressive hike in the price of wheat flour.
“We used to have over 400,000 registered members, and by the time you go to each bakery, the lowest number of employees you would find there is an average of 10 staff.
“By the time you multiply the 10 workers by 400,000, it is quite a large number,’’ he said.
Ubah also advised the Federal Government to promote local production of wheat, so as to lessen its importation by flour millers.