FG efforts fails as food imports rise 122%, deficit hits N4.9trn

Amidst the ongoing initiatives to boost food production in Nigeria through intervention programs, the nation has encountered a substantial trade deficit in the food sector, amounting to N4.92 trillion
A global issue of rising costs of living has been caused by rising food prices
A global issue of rising costs of living has been caused by rising food pricesThe Business Executive

The available data underscores that the domestic food production is insufficient to meet the demands of the population, necessitating imports. This situation has led to a sharp 121.7 percent escalation in the value of imported food products over the past five years. Import values surged from N857 billion in 2018 to N1.9 trillion in 2022.

A primary factor contributing to this trend is the intensifying insecurity across the nation's agricultural belt. The resultant abandonment of farmlands by numerous farmers has compelled the government to annually expend millions of dollars on food imports.

Statistics sourced from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) unveil that agricultural imports during the aforementioned period totaled N6.916 trillion. In contrast, agricultural exports stood at N1.997 trillion, leading to an agricultural trade deficit of N4.919 trillion.

The data reveals a steady rise in agricultural imports from 2018 (N857 billion) to 2022 (N1.9 trillion), with intermittent increases in intervening years. Meanwhile, agricultural exports exhibited varying values: N302 billion in 2018, N270 billion in 2019, N322 billion in 2020, N505 billion in 2021, and N598 billion in 2022 – showcasing a 98 percent increase from 2018 to 2022.

Analysts attribute the export upsurge not to augmented output, but to the government's vigorous non-oil export promotion campaign. Critics argue that this dynamic jeopardizes the nation's food security.

A parallel report from the NBS indicates that the decline in food production cannot be solely attributed to the impact of insecurity. Escalating prices of key farming inputs, like seeds, herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, and agro machinery, have considerably strained farmers' capacity to expand production, prompting reductions in output.

Despite various intervention programs initiated by federal agencies, the predicament appears unresolved. Notably, the federal government, over time, has invested substantial financial resources in agricultural initiatives to bolster local food production.

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