Northern Nigerians Turn To ‘throw-away’ Rice To Feed Their Families

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As the cost of living in Nigeria continues to rise, many in the northern part of the country are turning to “throw-away” rice to feed their families.

The rice grains, known as afafata in the Hausa language, are usually rejected by millers after processing or sold to farmers to feed their fish.

Despite being broken, dirty, and tough, afafata’s cheaper price has made it more attractive for humans and helped poorer families afford one of the staple foods in the country.

The rising cost of living in Nigeria is due to global pressures, President Bola Tinubu’s cancellation of the fuel subsidy, and the devaluation of the currency, the naira, which have added to inflation.

A standard 50kg (110lb) bag of rice, which could help feed a household of between eight and 10 for about a month, now costs 77,000 naira ($53; £41).

This is an increase of more than 70% since the middle of last year and exceeds the monthly income of a majority of Nigerians.

Many families in the north are now opting to buy afafata, which is a battle to cook and eat as the grains are so hard. Fish farm owner Fatima Abdullahi said her fish love it, but because people are now eating afafata, its price has risen.

In the face of this, many are struggling to cope, and in some states, there have been cost-of-living protests.The solution, for now, for some is found in afafata.

Hajiya Rabi Isah, based in Kano state, told the BBC that if it were not for this type of rice, her children would go hungry as she cannot afford the normal kind.

“Normal rice is 4,000 naira ($2.70) per bowl, which is beyond my means. I can only afford afafata, which is 2,500 naira ($1.69) now,” she said.

One bowl of rice from the market can feed an average family in Kano for a day.

“Without afafata, feeding my family would be a major issue for me.”

Saminu Uba, who works in Kano’s Medile market, said the afafata side of his business is booming.

“Most people can no longer afford normal rice, and they come for this, which is cheaper even though it tastes less good,” he told the BBC.

One of his customers, Hashimu Dahiru, admits people are having to find ways of adapting.

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