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Nigeria’s fish, wheat imports from Russia tumble 83%

FG begins process to declare all ICDs as ports of destination, origin

Nigeria’s fish and wheat imports from Russia plunged by 83 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2022 amid the ongoing war in Ukraine, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, prices of wheat, maize, fertilisers, and other commodities have climbed to unprecedented heights as the crisis has disrupted global food supplies, forcing countries to seek other trade partners.

The latest foreign trade report released by the NBS shows that Nigeria’s fish imports (blue whiting and herrings) from Russia decreased by 83 percent to N8.99 billion in the first quarter of this year from N53 billion in the same period of 2021.

On a quarter-on-quarter basis, the country’s fish imports from Russia dropped by 17 percent to N8.99 billion from N10.82 billion in the fourth quarter of 2021.

The top sources of fish into Nigeria for the period included the Netherlands (N10.9 billion), Russia (N8.99 billion), Norway (N1.48 billion) and Poland (N1.37 billion).

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“It is expected that the country’s imports from Russia will decline. The war is making it very difficult to get commodities out of the Black Sea region,” said Abiodun Olorundenro, operations manager at Aquashoot.

“The situation has forced Nigeria and others to look for other countries that can supply them,” he added.

Africa’s most populous country also buys some of its wheat from Russia and other Black Sea countries to mix with quality wheat from the United States and Canada.

In the last five months, wheat-based products such as the popular pre-packed wheat flour and bread (sliced and unsliced) have witnessed a steady price increase across the country.

In April 2022, a 500g sliced bread was sold for N450, representing a 35 percent increase on a year-on-year basis. The 500g unsliced bread rose by 25 percent from N306.74 in April 2021 to N383.51 in April 2022, NBS data show.

Wheat flour pre-packaged Golden Penny 2kg was sold for N1,047 in April 2022, up 35.9 percent from N770.58 in the same month last year.

“Prices of bread and other wheat derivatives have been surging, and this means more pain for poor Nigerians who are currently struggling to feed,” said AfricanFramer Mogaji, chief executive of X-Ray Consulting.

The Black Sea region, which includes Russia and Ukraine, plays a major role in the global food system.

Forty percent of wheat and corn exports from Russia and Ukraine goes to the Middle East and Africa. According to the United States Department of Commerce, Ukraine’s agricultural strength is partly linked to its fertile black soil, with 25 percent of the world’s reserves on its land.

This fertile land is behind Ukraine’s grain strength, helping it to become one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat and maize, as well as the world’s largest exporter of sunflower oil, which is the fourth most-consumed vegetable oil in the world.

The main destinations of Ukrainian wheat in 2019 were Egypt ($3.65 billion worth of wheat), Indonesia ($664.5 million), Bangladesh ($418.6 million), Turkey ($207.4 million), and Tunisia ($195.5 million), according to data from the UN’s Comtrade. In 2020, Lebanon imported $148.49 million worth of wheat from Russia ($22.9 million) and Ukraine ($119.1 million).