BusinessDay

Nigeria’s food imports hit N464.5bn in 6months

Despite efforts by the Federal Government to boost food security in Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria spent a whooping N464.5 billion in the first six months of the year to import food products.

The value of food imports in the second quarter of 2022 stood at N464.45 billion showing an increase when compared to the value recorded in the first quarter of 2022 N443.36 billion, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show.

On a year-on-year basis, the value increased by 4.76 percent and by 13.70 percent when compared to the value recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2021. The total food import accounts for 8.55 percent of the total imports for the period.

The country has failed to grow more food for its fast-rising population which must be fed with staples such as rice, beans, tomatoes, and maize.

This has forced the country to spend millions of dollars yearly importing food, thereby putting pressure on its foreign exchange reserves and losing thousands of jobs it would have created if the products were grown locally.

The increase is coherent with the predictions of the United Nations on the global food import bill increase.

“At $1.94 trillion, the global food import bill (FIB) is forecast to reach another record in 2022,” according to the Biannual Report on Global Food Market 2022.

The report states that the year-on-year increase will likely be less pronounced than in the previous year, owing to the falling purchasing power of importers at a time when food prices are at all-time highs.

“Worryingly, many economically vulnerable countries are paying more while receiving less,” the report stated.

Read also: Why Nigeria must make its food systems sustainable, resilient

Despite increased climate variability, conflicts and geopolitical tensions, bleak economic prospects, soaring agricultural input costs and export restrictions across the globe Nigeria’s food importation continues to grow.

Victor Olowe, a professor and an agronomist at the Institute of Food Security, Environmental Resources and Agricultural Research, said the country’s import bill is surging daily owing to its inability to produce enough food for its fast-rising population.

The major agricultural goods imported in Q2, 2022 included ‘Durum wheat (not in seeds)’ from the United States of America with N70.67 billion. It is projected to grow in 2022 to nine million tonnes from 8.1 million tonnes in 2021 according to the Biannual global food market report.

Olowe added that the high rate of insecurity in the country has affected the production of food, especially grains as farmers can no longer grow in areas they usually grow crops on.

Also, farming activities in the country have been impacted by the high rate of insecurity that has forced many farmers to abandon their farmlands, coupled with the rising prices of fertilizers and diesel costs.

This explains why the country still has a huge demand-supply gap in most of its staple foods, even as the population growth rate stands at 2.5 percent in 2020, according to the World Bank.

Exports of agricultural goods fell by 29.67 percent and 14.32 percent when compared to the value recorded in the first quarter of 2022 and second quarter of 2021 respectively.