Inflation on imported food has risen by 89.23 per cent between August 2019 and August 2023, findings by The PUNCH have shown.
This was according to data obtained from the consumer price index reports by the National Bureau of Statistics.
The PUNCH also learnt that within the first six months of 2023, Nigeria spent N1.47tn on importing food and beverages.
This was an increase of 80.83 per cent from the N815bn spent on the same import in H1 2019, according to the foreign trade statistics reports of the NBS.
The former Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, had said that the country had enough food to feed all its citizens.
The country has failed to grow more food for its fast-rising population due to insecurity, flooding, and low mechanisation, among other reasons.
This has forced it to spend millions of dollars yearly importing food, putting further pressure on the country’s foreign exchange reserves as the country battles with forex scarcity.
The International Monetary Fund recently said that the food crisis currently ravaging Nigeria and other sub-Saharan countries had been exacerbated by over-reliance on imported foods.
In a report titled “Africa Food Prices Are Soaring Amid High Import Reliance”, the Washington-based lender said staple food prices in sub-Saharan Africa surged by an average 23.9 per cent in 2020 to 22—the most since the 2008 global financial crisis.
According to the report, the increase was commensurate to an 8.5 per cent rise in the cost of a typical food consumption basket (beyond generalised price increases).
The report said that global factors were partly to blame because of the region’s imports of top staple foods, noting that the pass-through from global to local food prices was significant.
The United States Agency for International Development recently warned Nigeria and other African countries to brace up for higher food prices, following recent developments that had temporarily halted Ukraine’s food exports to African countries.
USAID ’s Deputy Administrator for Policy and Programming, Isobel Coleman, said this at a virtual press conference in August.
According to her, Russia’s decision to withdraw from the Black Sea Grain Initiative had already begun to trigger higher food prices around the world.
She noted the impact of the food price hike would be more felt in developing countries that were import-dependent and had conventionally relied on grain imports from Ukraine.
Coleman said, “One of the world’s largest breadbaskets is Ukraine. By doing this, Russia is increasing food prices globally. We have already seen how global food prices came down over time after the Black Sea Grain Initiative came into place. Since Russia has pulled out of the agreement, food prices have again been on the rise.
“This affects every country around the world, but it affects, most acutely, large import-dependent developing countries that have to spend much of their precious foreign exchange resources to purchase food to feed their population.”
The Black Sea Grain Initiative was conceived to specifically allow for commercial food and fertiliser (including ammonia) exports from three key Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea, which are Odessa, Chornomorsk, Yuzhny/Pivdennyi.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 led to a complete halt of maritime grain shipments from Ukraine, previously a major exporter via the Black Sea. Additionally, Russia temporarily halted its grain exports, further exacerbating the situation.
This resulted in a rise in world food prices and the threat of famine in lower-income countries such as Nigeria, and the accusation that Russia was weaponising food supplies.