Nigeria spent N1.85 trillion to import food for nine months during the closure of international land borders, President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief economic adviser has said.
According to him, this is a signal of the nation’s lack of capacity to feed itself.
Dr. Doyin Salami, Chairman of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (ECA), spoke during the National Economic Outlook for 2021 organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).
It was the seventh edition held virtually on Tuesday in Lagos.
Salami, an ex-member of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) said: “Despite border closure, our national import of food amounted to N1.85 trillion between January and Sept 2020 – a 62 per cent increase when compared to same period 2019. This suggests a weakness in our ability to feed ourselves and raises the need to consider review of intervention policies in agriculture.”
He said agriculture continues to decelerate, growing at 1.7 per cent year-to-date while consumer-sensitive sectors like manufacturing and distribution continue to contract, in double digits.
According to him, serious climatic concerns are undermining agricultural output with 2.5 million farmers being impacted by flooding in 2019.
Preliminary assessments suggest that 2020 was worse with persistence into 2021 to adversely affect output and food prices.
Nigerians’ spending on food rose significantly in 2019, according to a report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The report, released in May last year, showed that total expenditure by households on food and non-food items for 2019 was N40.21 trillion, up from N21.62 trillion recorded in 2018.