The rise in agricultural imports has continued unabated despite hundreds of billions of naira in funding backed by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s initiatives, rising by 140 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2021.
Some of the major agricultural items that Nigeria imports according to the latest foreign trade report include durum wheat, preparations of animals, blue whiting, malt, herrings, and other edible mixtures.
According to the recently published foreign trade report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria’s agricultural import spiked by 140 percent year-on-year in first quarter of 2021. Nigeria imported agricultural items worth N630.18 billion in the period compared to N262.1 billion in first quarter of 2020.
This represents the highest quarterly Agric import recorded by Nigeria since 2016. In the past two years, between second quarter of 2019 and first quarter of 2020, Nigeria has spent N3.1 trillion on agricultural imports.
Some of the intervention programs, as stated by the apex bank in its last MPC briefing, include N631.4 billion to 3.11 million smallholder farmers cultivating 3.8 million hectares of land, under the Anchor Borrowers’ program. Also, 29,26 beneficiaries received N111.7 billion for the AGSMEIS, while 548,345 beneficiaries have received N253.4 billion under the Targeted Credit Facility.
These interventions notwithstanding, Agric imports continue to rise, triggered by multiple devaluations of the naira, demand for higher input raw materials, and rising inflation. Much of Nigeria’s food consumption still relies significantly on the importation of food items to stimulate local production.
For example, wheat remains an imported production input costing Nigeria about N222 billion in the first quarter of 2021 alone. It was N252 billion in the 4th quarter of 2020, translating to an annualized cost of N1 trillion ($2 billion).
According to a market survey report which studies the prices of food items in major markets in Lagos State, a bag of pepper surged by as much as 85.7 percent in May 2021, while beans increased by 15.1 percent in the same period.
Other items that have witnessed significant increases recently include flour, egg, tomatoes, noodles, pasta, bread, beverages, just to state a few.
According to Suleiman Dikwa, the CEO of Green Sahara Farms, a major cause of the surge in agric imports is the inability of Nigeria to produce sufficiently for local consumption.