By Philip Yatai
Kaura – Some food vendors of the Federal Government’s Home Grown School Feeding Programme in Kaura Local Government Area of Kaduna State on Sunday complained that N35 was grossly inadequate to prepare a quality meal.
The vendors told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaura that they supply the food at N50 per plate, with N35 as cost price and N15 profit.
Mr Yakubu Kajang, the Desk Officer of the programme in the local government area, confirmed that the 261 vendors in the area received N50 per plate directly from the Federal Government.
The vendors said that the cost of food items in the market had made it impossible to prepare a plate of rice with beans, fish, vegetables and crayfish with N35.
They appealed to the Federal Government to review the rate from N50 to N100 per plate in line with current market prices.
According to them, the aim of empowering local women through the programme will be defeated if nothing is done about it.
One of the vendors, Mrs Alice Emmanuel, who supplied food to U.B.E. Zwahu Kazah in Manchok, said that most of the vendors spent more than the budgeted N35 for the food to meet the minimum standard.
“Price of food items are on the increase and we are expected to prepare a nutritious meal with just N35.
“If you put one and two together you will realise that we spend more than N50 per plate.
“We have to use the vegetable we planted in our backyards meant for family use and, in some cases, even beans in the house are not spared, just for us to really have something to take home as profit.
“We are in a serious dilemma because N35 is no longer feasible to prepare a nutritious meal, and if the food falls below quality it will be rejected by the school authorities.
“We are appealing to the Federal Government to increase the amount from N50 to N100 per plate for the programme to achieve its aim of empowering poor women like us. We are currently running at a loss,” she said.
Another vendor, Mrs Hajaratu Kato, said that a measure of rice sells for between N550 and N600, and that of beans cost N500.
Kato said that she feeds 53 pupils at Unguwan Nka, Gizagwai, Manchok primary school, and use seven measures of rice and three of beans which cost her N5, 700.
“When you multiply N50 by 53, it will give you only N2, 650, that is what I get for supplying rice and beans that cost me N5, 700, minus money spent on fish, vegetable, crayfish and other ingredients.
“When you minus N2, 650 from my cost of N5, 700, you will see that I am already at a loss of N3, 050.
“This is why some vendors had to either cut down the quantity of food per plate or reduce the quality to make profit, or better still, use some food items for family use to reduce cost,” she said.
Mrs Jummai Dauda, another vendor said: “We are incurring huge losses in the name of empowerment.
“The Federal Government should look into this and do the needful. Food items are expensive. N35 is really not realistic.
“Some of us are still doing this because we are mothers and a mother is always ready to make the needed sacrifice for her children, particularly when it comes to feeding.
“If the rate can be increased to at least N100 per plate, it would go a great way in meeting the programme’s objectives, but as it is now, it is simply impoverishing us.”
NAN reports that that about 1.6 million primary one to three pupils in 3, 752 primary schools in Kaduna State are being fed under the programme.
NAN also reports that five non-governmental organisations with support from MacArthur Foundation, are currently monitoring the programme in the state to ensure judicious use of resources, accountability and transparency.
The NGOs are Connecting Gender for Development, Action Aid Nigeria, Girl Child Concern, Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria and Nigeria Popular Theatre Alliance.