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COVID-19, currency redesign, fuel subsidy removal are key drivers of food inflation in Nigeria – Ibrahim Maigari 



Ibrahim Maigari, Chief Executive Officer of Rice Afrika, has attributed the current food inflation in Nigeria to a series of disruptive events from 2020 to 2023, including the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, currency redesign, and the removal of fuel subsidies by the current administration.  

Speaking as a guest at a webinar organized by ThePressNG on Saturday with the theme ‘From Farm to Market’, Maigari also highlighted the impact of the Russian-Ukraine war, heightened insecurity in food-producing regions, massive flooding between May and October 2022, and the reliance on smallholder farmers who produce up to 80% of the country’s food on less than 2 hectares.  

Explaining how the COVID-19 lockdown between March and August 2020 contributed to the current food inflation, Maigari noted that the confinement period coincided with the critical rainfall and harvesting seasons, drastically affecting food production. 

“You can remember that between March and August of 2020, there was the unfortunate lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic. From March to August, we were all locked down, which affected food production, and that’s the beginning of the rainfall season to the harvest period,” he explained. 

Additionally, he explained that in 2021, insecurity reached unprecedented levels in nearly all the food-producing states in the northern region of the country.  

This significantly disrupted food production, leading to a noticeable increase in food prices as the decline in food production due to the security challenges further strained supply. 

Explaining how the Russia-Ukraine conflict in Europe contributes to the current food inflation in Nigeria, Maigari noted that many of the fertilizer components used in Nigeria are sourced from these two countries. The ongoing conflict has disrupted the global fertilizer supply chain, significantly impacting food production in Nigeria. 

“In 2022, around February, the Russia-Ukraine crisis began. A lot of people do not understand the connection between the Ukraine crisis and the food systems of most developing countries.  

“Russia and Ukraine are where most of our fertilizer components, what we normally blend to make our fertilizers, come from. So, the global fertilizer supply chain got disrupted,” Maigari said.  

Furthermore, Maigari noted that the massive flooding between May and October 2022 had catastrophic consequences on food production in Nigeria. A significant portion of routine crop yields was lost, and over 860,000 hectares of farmland and agricultural infrastructure were severely impacted. This devastation further strained the food supply. 

Regarding the currency redesign initiated by the Godwin Emefiele-led Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) during Muhammadu Buhari’s administration towards the end of 2022, Maigari noted that many farmers were adversely affected.  

This disruption disorganized preparations for the 2023 farming season, further diminishing the production capacity of the food-producing states. 

He also mentioned that the fuel subsidy removal announced by President Bola Tinubu on his first day in office in May 2023 further exacerbated the food production challenges in these states.  

Additionally, Maigari highlighted that the foreign exchange policies of the current administration further impacted farmers’ production capacity, ultimately contributing to the food inflation being experienced.