It is no longer news that the Nigerian economy is deteriorating as the day goes by and our government is doing little or nothing to improve the situation at hand. Prices of goods and services are increasing daily. Meanwhile, the incomes of most Nigerians have remained stagnant while the value (purchasing power) is eroded as inflation renders the naira practically of little value compared to stronger currencies.
According to the report released by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, the consumer price index (CPI), which measures inflation rose to 15.92 percent in March 2022, representing a 0.22 percent point rise when compared to 15.70 percent recorded in February 2022. This is the highest-level inflation had attained since October 2021. The Bureau also said that the composite food index rose year-on-year (YoY) by 0.09 percent points to 17.20 percent in March 2022 from 17.11 percent in February 2022 while the price of imported food rose 17.56 percent year-on-year in March, increasing from a 17.48 percent advance in February.
This incessant and continuous increase in food items is big trouble for low, fixed-income earners and unemployed Nigerians. Over the years, we have had high-level neglect with poor/no policy on the agro-industrial sector. The different governments especially this present government have failed in their bid to provide policies and enabling environments that will improve food supply at affordable prices. However, what we have seen is rather the opposite result. The food supply has been grossly inadequate.
Farming activities have been disrupted due to high levels of kidnapping, insurgency, banditry, herder/farmer clashes, as well as climate change, which also hampers the productivity of farmers. Many farmers in rural communities across the country have been deprived of access to their farmlands for fear of either being kidnapped for ransom or being attacked or killed by herders. The COVID-19 pandemic disruptions, dollar shortages, food transportation, and restrictions on imports of certain food items despite the reopening of the borders were among the reasons being provided for the inadequate and increased cost of food products.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, one 50kg bag of rice cost an average of ₦2,500 in 2000, and from NBS, ₦10,000 in 2014, and had an average of ₦26,000 in 2020. This is more than a 1000% increase in 20 years. Such same examples have been seen across the most widely consumed foods in Nigeria. Countrywide, high-rocket increases have been recorded in the price of bread, cereals, fish, meat, beans, yam, and other tuber, food products, potatoes, chicken, floor, fruits, fats, and oils in the past couple of years with some having more than 100% increase in less than one year.
This poses a scary future for Nigeria and Nigerians. According to a 2021 Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC 2021), Nigeria is among six countries in Africa with a worsening food crisis that is placing 13 million Nigerians at risk of falling into acute food insecurity. Also, in 2021 as well, the Global Hunger Index (GHI) ranked Nigeria the 103rd out of 116 countries. It warns that unless urgent steps are taken in Nigeria, serious hunger could result in child stunting, child wasting, and child mortality.
Food insecurity could also lead to famine, malnutrition, disease, mortality, and even crimes among the citizens. This is disheartening as Nigeria has the potential to produce enough food not only for its citizenry but also for exportation purposes. Therefore, the government at all levels should provide an enabling environment, support farmers, and encourage private and well-meaning investors to come and invest in agriculture and farm product production.
Composite Food Index (Cost of Food) in Nigeria for the last 25 Years.