In spite of consistent government endeavors to bolster domestic food production in Nigeria through numerous intervention initiatives, the nation has experienced a staggering trade deficit in the food sector, amounting to N4.92 trillion between 2018 and 2022. Data at hand unveils that Nigeria’s agricultural output falls short of meeting its population’s needs, consequently leading to a necessity for food imports.
As a result, in order to cater to the escalating population’s food requirements, the country witnessed an upsurge of 121.7 percent in the worth of imported foodstuffs over the five-year span. The figures jumped from N857 billion in 2018 to N1.9 trillion in 2022.
This phenomenon can largely be attributed to the intensification of insecurity, particularly in the agricultural regions, which has driven numerous farmers to abandon their fields. As a result, the government has been compelled to allocate millions of dollars for annual food imports.
Revealed data sourced from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) indicates that the total value of agricultural imports into Nigeria between 2018 and 2022 was N6.916 trillion. However, during the same period, total agricultural exports from the country amounted to N1.997 trillion, ultimately leading to a significant agricultural trade deficit of N4.919 trillion.
The data also showcases an ongoing trend of escalating agricultural imports: N857 billion in 2018, N959 billion in 2019, N1.2 trillion in 2020, N2 trillion in 2021, and a moderate reduction to N1.9 trillion in 2022.
Conversely, agricultural exports from Nigeria during the same timeframe amounted to N302 billion in 2018, N270 billion in 2019, N322 billion in 2020, N505 billion in 2021, and N598 billion in 2022. This reveals a 98 percent increase from 2018 to 2022.
Analysts attribute the export surge to the government’s robust non-oil export promotion initiatives rather than a genuine increase in output, which they perceive as counterproductive to the nation’s food security.
Moreover, a correlated report by the NBS highlights that the decline in food production isn’t solely due to security concerns. The report underscores a sharp rise in the costs of essential farming inputs such as seeds, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and agricultural machinery within the timeframe, placing strains on farmers and hindering expansion.
Despite the various interventions by the federal government and its agencies, the situation remains largely unaddressed.
Anchor Borrowers Programme Sees N1.08 Trillion Allocation
The federal government has invested billions over the years in various agricultural programs aimed at spurring local food production. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced that it disbursed a cumulative sum of N1.08 trillion to farmers via the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) between 2015 and 2022.
In early 2023, the CBN reported the allocation of N12.65 billion to three agricultural projects under the program. The CBN emphasized the need to enhance exports over imports to strengthen the Naira and advocated for responsible consumption of locally available products to reduce unnecessary reliance on imported luxury items.
The CBN suggested addressing corruption in the fuel subsidy system and dual forex rates, while also improving infrastructure to ensure better market conditions, decreased expenses, and elevated quality of life.