Soaring Staple Food Prices Exacerbate Food Insecurity in Nigeria

Nigeria's food security worsens due to declining staple food production, with farmers blaming climate change, inflation, insecurity, and currency fluctuations. The country's food prices are rising, with staple items like garri and rice increasing by over 100% in a year, eroding the middle class's purchasing power.

Bijay Laxmi
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Soaring Staple Food Prices Exacerbate Food Insecurity in Nigeria

Soaring Staple Food Prices Exacerbate Food Insecurity in Nigeria

Nigeria's food security challenges are expected to worsen due to a decline in the production of staple foods, including sorghum, maize, millet, cowpea, gari, and rice. Farmers in the country are blaming various reasons, including flooding due to climate change, inflation, insecurity, and the fluctuation of the Naira.

Why this matters: The rising food prices and declining production in Nigeria have far-reaching implications for the country's economy and population, potentially leading to increased poverty, social unrest, and migration. Moreover, the effects of climate change and insecurity on food production could have a ripple effect on regional and global food security.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has projected a slight decrease in the production of rice, millet, cassava, maize, and soybeans in Nigeria for 2024. Rice production is expected to decrease from 5.355 million metric tonnes in 2022-23 to around 5.229 million metric tonnes in 2023-24. Maize production is projected to decrease by 8% to 11 million metric tons in 2024-25, while sorghum production is expected to decline from 6.742 million metric tonnes in 2022-23 to around 6.700 million metric tonnes in 2023-24.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations projects that over 31.5 million people in Nigeria will face acute food insecurity between June and August 2024, a significant increase of about 4.6 million people from the 26.5 million earlier projected in November 2023.

Farmers in Nigeria are facing numerous challenges, including insecurity, low levels of mechanization, soaring costs of inputs, flooding, and heightened labor expenses. According to Arc Kabir Ibrahim, National President of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), these factors have collectively impeded the productivity of Nigerian farmers.

AFAN is calling on President Bola Tinubu to implement sustainable subsidies for all agricultural inputs and to bolster security measures, ensuring farmers can safely access their lands.

Farmers in various states, including Kwara, Benue, and Plateau, are facing specific challenges, such as lack of government interventions in the agricultural sector, lengthy dry spells during the wet season, inadequate supply of farm implements and mechanization, inadequate storage facilities, herdsmen attacks and local bandits attacks, and untimely distribution of farming inputs. These challenges have resulted in a significant decrease in crop production in these states.

The increasing cost of staple foods like garri is making them inaccessible to the average Nigerian. The average price of 1kg of white garri has increased by 112.34% on a year-on-year basis from N353.16 in March 2023 to N749.89 in March 2024, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Food Price Report. Residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have lamented the rising prices. "Garri is the least food available to the common man, and if we can no longer afford it, then we are looking for trouble in this country. If a man can't get common garri to drink anymore, maybe because he has no job, he may go and steal eventually," said Chibuzor Chukwudife, a bachelor.

The soaring prices of essential goods and commodities in Nigeria are eroding the purchasing power of the middle class. A recent report by SBM Intelligence, titled "The Price of Everything," reveals that over the past year, prices for everyday items have more than doubled. The survey, conducted between Q1 2023 and Q1 2024, shows staggering price hikes across a wide range of consumer goods, including food and drinks, personal care products, and electricity. Staple items like rice, noodles, and tomatoes have seen triple-digit increases, with a 50kg bag of foreign rice skyrocketing from N42,000 to N77,000 within a year, marking an 83% increase.

The economic challenges in Nigeria are dire, and calls for government intervention have grown. Stabilizing the exchange rate and implementing holistic strategies to address the root causes of inflation are seen as crucial steps to alleviate the economic burden on Nigerians and foster long-term growth. The need for decisive action to tackle soaring prices and mitigate the adverse effects on livelihoods has never been more pressing.

Key Takeaways

  • Nigeria's food security worsens due to declining staple food production.
  • 31.5 million people to face acute food insecurity between June-Aug 2024.
  • Farmers blame flooding, inflation, insecurity, and Naira fluctuation.
  • Food prices soar, with garri increasing by 112.34% in a year.
  • Gov't intervention needed to address inflation and stabilize exchange rate.