Despite the continued and unrelenting efforts by Nigerian government to boost local food production, food imports has risen by 122% bringing the country’s foods trade deficit to N4.92 trillion between 2018 and 2022. This means that the country is not producing enough food to cater for its swelling population and thereby resulting to imports to fill the gap.
In spite of continuous endeavors by the government to enhance food production in Nigeria through various intervention initiatives, the nation has encountered a significant deficit in its food trade, amounting to N4.92 trillion between 2018 and 2022.
Evidential data underscores that Nigeria is struggling to cultivate an adequate amount of food to sustain its population, thus necessitating imports to fulfill its food requirements.
As a result, to cater to its ever-increasing populace, the country observed a striking 121.7 percent surge in the value of imported food products over the five-year period, soaring from N857 billion in 2018 to N1.9 trillion in 2022.
This predicament is likely linked to escalating insecurity, especially in the agricultural regions, compelling numerous farmers to abandon their fields.
Nigeria’s Food Imports trade imbalance widens as agricultural deficit reaches N4.9 trillion
Consequently, the government has had to allocate substantial funds to import food annually.
Figures gleaned from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) demonstrate that Nigeria’s total agricultural imports from 2018 to 2022 reached N6.916 trillion, while agricultural exports stood at N1.997 trillion during the same period.
This led to an agricultural trade deficit of N4.919 trillion.
The data also indicates a consistent rise in agricultural imports since 2018, starting from N857 billion and escalating to N959 billion in 2019, N1.2 trillion in 2020, N2 trillion in 2021, and then slightly receding to N1.9 trillion in 2022.
Contrastingly, agricultural exports showed an upward trend, increasing from N302 billion in 2018 to N598 billion in 2022, marking a 98 percent surge over the four-year span.
Analysts attribute the export growth to the government’s ambitious non-oil export promotion strategy rather than an actual surge in output. This approach, however, has implications for the nation’s food security.
A supplementary report from the NBS points out that the slump in food production isn’t solely attributed to security concerns; the elevated prices of crucial farming inputs such as seeds, pesticides, and machinery have also hindered farmers from expanding production, compelling many to scale back.
Numerous efforts by federal agencies, such as the Central Bank of Nigeria, have seemingly made only marginal improvements.
The government has channeled considerable resources into agricultural initiatives, including the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS), and Accelerated Agricultural Development programmes, collectively valued at over N3.0 trillion.
However, these endeavors have not bridged the substantial food supply gap, particularly in staple foods.
Although agriculture contributes 22 percent to Nigeria’s GDP and employs a significant portion of the population, the majority of food production is carried out by resource-constrained smallholder farmers.
These farmers are plagued by low productivity, substantial post-harvest losses, inadequate value addition, segmented markets, and inefficiencies in the value chain logistics.
Insights from industry experts emphasize the necessity for more active governmental involvement in agricultural inputs and an improvement in the security situation to bolster the sector’s performance.
Despite interventions like the ABP, the country’s reliance on food imports has surged due to factors like insecurity, infrastructure deficits, power scarcity, and insufficient preservation facilities for domestically produced goods.
This increasing dependency on imports poses economic challenges, including a devaluing currency.
To strengthen the Naira, Nigeria must strive to export more than it imports, curbing unnecessary spending on imported luxury items, and improving local infrastructure to justify a shift toward liberal market principles.