Many Nigerians are unable to buy eggs and beans as their prices have soared by over 50 percent, owing to decline in output, yet, consumer demand is on the increase. This is putting the country’s protein consumption at risk, as both commodities are the major sources of protein, especially for low-income earners.
The country’s per capita daily protein intake is estimated to be 45.4g as against the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) minimum of 53.8g. With beans and eggs currently eluding many Nigerian households owing to the continuous rise in prices, the country’s per capita protein intake gap will further widen and the number of malnourished persons will increase.
It will also threaten the country’s school feeding programme targeted at reducing stunting and malnutrition among children. 43.6 percent of children in Nigeria have stunted growth, according to the 2018 Global Nutrition Report. Wasting, a reflection of acute malnutrition, affects approximately 18 percent of children under 5 years old in Nigeria, which, according to WHO standards, is a very high public health concern. With access to protein becoming more difficult, these indices are expected to worsen.
“I can’t afford to give my children an egg per day anymore despite knowing the importance for their development, because it has become so expensive,” Moji Adeleke, a teacher and a mother of four, states.
“Also, beans, which is a substitute for protein for poor Nigerians, is no longer affordable. A derica tin (for measurement) that was sold for N120 last year is now being sold for N350,” she says.
Beans and eggs are economically important agricultural produce that serve as the cheapest means of protein for majority in Africa’s most populous nation. Currently, Nigeria lags its peers in terms of per capita protein consumption owing to its high rate of low-income earners, poor nutritional knowledge, and high cost of protein-rich foods, experts say.
Nigeria is currently the poverty capital of the world, with 98 million living in multidimensional or extreme poverty, according to the World Poverty Index. Extreme poverty occurs when a person lives below $1.90 (N684) daily, and this is the case of most Nigerians and the situation has been worsened by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Business Day