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Rising food prices; Any end in sight?



A newspaper report says the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari has restated the commitment of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to revive the nation’s agricultural sector in a bid to attain food security.

Abubakar Kyari noted that his ministry will apply all measures to bring down food prices. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu had earlier declared an immediate state of emergency on food insecurity to tackle the increase in food prices across the nation.

Food prices have been on the rise across Nigeria in recent years and have been a major driver of headline inflation increasing to 26.98% in July 2023.

The food supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic resulted in an increase in price across food items in the country. Insecurity in the country, ranging from incessant attacks on farmers by herdsmen to banditry and kidnappings, further worsened the situation.

The recurring incidences of flood have also been a problem.

The closure of the borders also contributed its quota to the increase in food prices.

We recall in August 2019, the Federal Government announced the total closure of land borders which was part of its efforts to prevent the smuggling of illegal arms on one hand and to prevent the influx of food & agricultural products into the country to stimulate and support local production.

Clearly, the recent subsidy removal with its pass-through effect on food transport costs and the unification of the FX at the various official windows have worsened an already bad situation.

The Nigerian consumer whose purchasing power has been severely squeezed by the impact of COVID-19, a recession, multiple devaluations of the Naira and increasing utility costs has little or no capacity to take any further increase in food prices.

While we laud bold statements by the government to combat the rising food prices, we note that several factors inhibiting food production in the country still remain unaddressed.

Chief amongst them are the heightened level of insecurity in the food processing regions, incidences of flood, and poor transport infrastructure.

In our view, failure to address these problems implies food inflation will remain high.