Food inflation rose to 22.95% in March, caused by wide-ranging price increases across items such as cereals, yam, meat, fish and fruits. Those soaring costs have been in part blamed on a worsening conflict between farmers and herders in Nigeria’s agriculture belt that Buhari has struggled to quash. A weakening currency and higher fuel prices have also contributed to rising food prices.
Nigerians, who already spend more than half their earnings on food, have had to cut down. Just over 50% of all households reported reduced consumption between July and December last year due to the twin pressures of falling wages and rising food costs
‘I can’t simply afford to give my children what they really need in terms of food,’ said Feyintola Bolaji, a mother of three.
Not long after Nigeria revealed that one in three people in the continent’s largest economy were unemployed, it announced that food inflation has accelerated at the highest pace in 15 years, compounding the misery of many households. Rising inflation has adversely affected the profitability of producers and is a major contributor to the low export penetration of made-in-Nigeria goods in the international market
The coronavirus pandemic has robbed 70% of Nigerians of some form of income,
More than half the population lives on less than $2 a day as food insecurity worsens in the country.
The situation has also been exacerbated by import restrictions on certain staples, such as rice, that have remained in place despite Buhari reopening Nigeria’s land borders in December following a 16-month shutdown in an attempt to end rampant smuggling.
“There is an urgent need for government to intentionally ensure price stability before the situation becomes deplorable,” the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria said in a statement.
Food prices will remain elevated until the security crisis, which has prevented farmers from returning to their land, is resolved, said Cheta Nwanze, a lead partner with SBM Intelligence, a Nigerian research firm. That’s “unless the government does the sensible thing and allows food imports to happen,” he said.