“Nigeria’s trade value in export is now more than the value of its import as agricultural exports increased by 82 percent in quarter , 2017, export earnings from agricultural goods were worth N30 billion,” – National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)
From colonial times up to the 1970s, Nigeria’s export was 70% agricultural which mainly included ground nut, palm oil and cocoa, thus agriculture was the country’s biggest foreign exchange earner; the country was 95% self-sufficient in food. At a time Nigeria was the world’s leading exporter of ground nut and palm oil, ahead of even the United States.
Unfortunately, less than 5 decades later, over 90% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earning was from oil; although farming practices in the period before 1970s – when the oil boom pushed people away from rural areas to urban areas in search of jobs in the oil fields – were crude in nature, yet Nigeria was 95% self-sufficient in food, today we are almost the 90th most food insecure country in the world.
Sadly, the bulk of Nigeria’s import is consumables, we now spend trillions importing various foods ranging from rice to fish; ironically, we export cotton and import finished textile materials; we export raw cocoa and import finished cocoa products and even more unbelievably shocking is the fact that we now export cassava only to import Garri!
With around 50 million tonnes of cassava production yearly Nigeria produces 80% of the world’s cassava which makes us the biggest producer of the commodity in the world, yet Indian packaged Garri is now being sold in markets across Nigeria and the Chinese might already be importing yam tubers from Nigeria to produce yam flour, even as Nigeria also produces over 75% of the world’s yam which makes the country the biggest producer of yam in the world. What an irony!
It’s obvious that a significant chunk of our net import goes to food importation which means our ability to grow a huge percentage of our food needs will help us save trillions of our precious foreign exchange being used to import food and thus spur economic growth. Although successive regimes in Nigeria since the 1980s have come up with different policies aimed at import substitution, most of such policies have failed because they were inspired by drop in global oil prices.
Commendably, as part of the Buhari administration to diversify the economy away from oil, the Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) is already promoting import substitution by banning the importation of critically-important commodities while at the same time supporting the local production of such commodities.
A perfect example of the administration’s policies aimed at import substitution is the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme, whose successful implementation has put Nigeria on the path to self-sufficiency in rice helping us save hundreds of billions of naira being spent on rice importation, yearly. Thus, agric export has increased by 82% during the first quarter of 2017, according the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
As we boast of a very fertile and arable land and a very conducive climate condition for farming, our ability to produce enough food for our local consumption as well as surpluses for export, presents to us an opportunity to not only achieve self-sufficiency in food production and consquently food security but also a great opportunity to export high-value commodities like sesame and cocoa to the global market, earning huge foreign exchange in the process.
Compiled by Moving Image Limited
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