O n Tuesday, August 13, President Buhari directed the Central Bank Governor to stop issuing forex to Nigerian food importers saying that the nation is now food sufficient. The statement was made at the Daura, Katsina State hosting of APC governors to Eid-el-Kabir lunch, his spokesperson said. A quick review of the reactions generated from different quarters, two arguments dominated. The first is whether the nation has truly attained food sufficiency and the second is whether the forex ban is rightly timed. In determining the former, there is need to weigh the country food status against the clear cut and visible parameters established by the United Nation. This sets the stage for a brief discuss on the preferred actions and policy direction regarding importation and production especially with regard to comparative cost advantage. Against the challenge of inconsistent data on the economy, Eco-hoovers Consulting Limited attempts in this article to streamline available information both local and international to determine food sufficiency status of Nigeria.
Food security, as defined by the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security, means that all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life. According to the same UN, Food security is traditionally discussed in terms of either food self-sufficiency or food self-reliance. While food self-sufficiency means ruling out import as major source of food supply, food self-reliance on the other hand means having food available through local production and import of food based on comparative advantage. In this case, the President is saying that the nation is now able to produce all it is that is food needed by the entire population being available, accessible, affordable, and safely and nutritiously presented.
Food items like yam and cassava are in no doubt produced in sufficient quantities in Nigeria. Without going into the issue of value chain for those items, statistics shows that Nigeria is the global leader in the production of the raw food commodities. Let us now look at the following selected major food items with regard to production, consumption and importation to enable determine if food sufficiency status as claimed by the President is truly attained .
The Pricewaterhouse Coopers, PWC had in their report that annual rice production in Nigeria reached a peak of 3.7 million tonnes in 2017 with consumption climbing to 6.4 million tonnes in the same year. Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria said production and consumption is at 5.8 million tonnes and 7.9 million tonnes respectively in 2017. The former leaves a gap of 2.7 million tonnes and the later leaves a gap of 2.1 million tonnes. The figures reported by Punch gave a larger gap of 3.0 million tonnes with 3.7 million tonnes of production and 6.7 million tonnes of consumption. The same report projected Nigeria to become the world second largest importer of rice by 2019 according to USAID with estimated volume to increase by 13percent to 3.4 tonnes.
The place of wheat as a major food in Nigeria is based on the dependence on wheat flour based products by Nigerians. These items include bread, spaghetti, noodles, biscuits and other products. Sufficiency in wheat production would amount to serious forex conservation. A present , Nigeria import 4.4 metric tonnes of wheat annually being the major source of the grain to the country.
The Foreign Trade Statistics report released by the NBS showed that wheat importation represents 42.5 per cent or N362.4 billion of the total N852 billion spent on importation of agricultural goods in 2018. Agricultural Promotion Policy (2016-2020) put Nigeria’s annual wheat consumption at 4.7 million metric tonnes and local production at a mere 60 thousand metric tonnes, leaving a deficit of 4.64 million metric tonnes. The Global Agricultural Information Network projected the consumption and import figure to rise to 5.26 million metric tons in 2019.
Edible oil – Palm Oil and others
in 2017, Oil palm production in Nigeria according to USAID report stands at 970,000 metric tons while total industry consumption is 1,355,000 metric tons. The Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) estimated that upstream palm oil production is 0.98 million tons. Groundnut Oil per annum is 0.4 million tons. Other oils like Soybean, Cottonseed and Sesame oil, in total contribute to the production of maximum 0.1m metric tones. Total domestic edible oil production according to NIFOR is estimated at about 1.5million metric tons. With per capita consumption of 12.5 Kg per person per annum, estimated annual consumption is 2.4 million tons leaving a supply gap of about 0.9 metric tons. Though the commodity is part of the import restricted list of items, this gap is covered up anyway, HOW?
Nigeria is the second largest producer of tomato after Egypt producing 2.4 million metric tons according to 2016 report by PWC. In 2018, Guardian newspaper reported a lower figure of 1.8 million metric tons in its January 21st Sunday Magazine. 45 percent of the volume produced in Nigeria is lost to post harvest waste due to poor supply chain management such as inefficient storage facilities and poor transportation systems. To meet consumption an estimated volume of 189.5 metric tons of tomato paste and sauce as contained in the Guardian Newspaper report is imported into the country gulping above $170 million annually.
Meat and Fish
On June 4, 2018, the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund posted on its site that demand for poultry product in Nigeria is worth N500 billion annually. 70 percent of this demand importation while 30 percent is meant locally.
According to the Worldfish Nigeria Strategy 2018-2022, Nigeria currently produce just over 1 million metric tons of fish, leaving a deficit of over 800,000 metric tons, which is imported annually
From the above figures, the nation cannot be said to have attained food sufficiency. Commendably, the current administration like the last is doing something in the direction to improving agricultural activities and increase food production. It is expected that the government intensify those various programs and policies over the next five to ten years and consistently monitor result before we can consider any declaration such as food sufficiency.
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