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Agric sector witness ₦424bn trade deficit

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By Usman Oladimeji

Gov’t efforts are not sufficient to enhance agricultural productivity.

According to the latest Foreign Trade report published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria agricultural industry has suffered a significant deficit of ₦423.69 billion during the third quarter of 2023. This quarter’s deficit stands out as one of the highest recorded in the sector’s history, as indicated by a thorough analysis of the NBS data. Experts attribute this shortfall to a decrease in production as the government strives to boost domestic output.

Jude Obi, the president of the Association of Organic Agriculture Practitioners said the dwindling output level arose due to the detrimental effects of synthetic fertilizers. Instead of replenishing the soil, these fertilizers end up damaging it, leading to a decline in yield. He said utilization of more synthetic fertilizers on farms will perpetuate low yield. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has provided evidence that Nigeria, being the most populous nation in Africa, has not made sufficient attempts to enhance its agricultural Productivity. In comparison to other countries in the region, Nigeria consistently reports low yields per hectare.

Q3 2022 trade activity reached a sum of ₦863.67 billion.

For Nigeria, the average yield of rice per hectare stands at 1.93 metric tons (MT). However, in Kenya, the average yield is considerably higher at 7.28MT. Ghana follows with a yield of 2.97MT, while South Africa and Ethiopia produce 2.84MT and 3.33MT respectively. In terms of maize production, Ethiopia boasts the highest average yield of maize in Africa, producing 4.24MT per hectare, exceeding Nigeria’s yield of 2.12MT. Meanwhile, Ghana average yield stands at 2.69MT per hectare, and South Africa achieves an impressive average yield of 5.41MT.

Analysts interviewed by the media posit that Nigerian insufficient food production poses a significant challenge as it fails to meet its own food requirements. Q3 2022 witnessed a noteworthy trade activity in the sector, reaching a sum of ₦863.67 billion. 25 percent of this amount, equivalent to ₦219.99 billion, was attributed to exports, whereas imports seized the majority share of 75 percent, equivalent to ₦643.68 billion. The NBS reported that the third quarter of 2023 witnessed a significant rise in the import value of agricultural goods, reaching ₦643.68 billion.

Soaring food prices resulted in a decline in production levels.

This figure represents a growth of 41.51% when compared to the previous quarter (Q2, 2023) and a 25.50% increase compared to the same quarter in the previous year (Q3, 2022). On the other hand, the Export value of agricultural goods in Q3, 2023 amounted to ₦219.99 billion, lower than the value recorded in Q2, 2023 which was ₦280.87 billion. This indicates a decline of 21.68 percent and an increase of 161.25 percent in comparison to Q3 2022 (₦84.21 billion).

Abiodun Olorundero, managing partner, Prasino Farms, said the escalating Inflation rates and soaring Food Prices have resulted in a significant decline in production levels. Olorundenro also highlighted the exorbitant expenses associated with conducting business in the country. Inflationary Pressures are on the rise, as are logistical costs. Moreover, petrol and diesel prices have surged by more than 50 percent, further compounding the issue as the purchasing power of end consumers diminishes. He said these aforementioned factors, among various others, are contributing to the decline in production levels.

Nigeria remains heavily dependent on importing food.

Despite numerous attempts to promote self-sufficiency through import substitution, the nation remains heavily dependent on importing food to address its current shortages and meet demands. Over the past seven years, the federal government has invested billions of dollars in a variety of agricultural initiatives aimed at boosting domestic food production. Nevertheless, these efforts have not yielded significant results, as the country continues to grapple with substantial disparities between the demand and supply of its essential food items.


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