Yesterday, a spokesman to the President told the media that we are the “largest producers of grain in Africa.” He also went on to say that our “surplus is being targeted by a huge global demand”. Hear him: “The huge demand for our grains in the global market is creating an excellent environment for the mindless export of Nigerian grains across our borders and unless this is curtailed, Nigerian markets will be bereft of food by January next year.”
But do we sell that much?
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the top 15 items exported from Nigeria are, in order, Petro oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude; Natural gas, liquefied; Petroleum gases and other gaseous hydrocarbons, liquefied; Propane, liquefied; Sesame seeds; Partially refined oil including crude oil having undergone primary refinement; Cashew nuts, in shell,fresh or dried; Butanes, liquefied; Leather further prepared after tanning or… of goats or kids; Cigarettes containing tobacco; Urea; Frozen shrimps and prawns; Aluminium alloys, unwrought; Cocoa paste, wholly or partly defatted; Broken cocoa beans.
Now, which grains are we the largest producers of in Africa? As per FAOSTAT, that will be millet and sorghum, end of. Egypt bests us in rice production, and because of the sheer volume of rice we consume here, we are actually a net importer of the grain. South Africa bests us in maize production, by 4 million metric tonnes a year, we are not in the global top 20 when it comes to maize exports. The data is all there, for all of us to peruse. For free!
So when the spokesman to the President goes on record to tell us that there is a food shortage coming “because there is a high demand for grains from Nigeria, from African countries as distant as Libya and Algeria, and from places as far away as Brazil,” and that “the Ministry of Agriculture has raised concerns about a massive rate of exportation, which could lead to a shortage of grains in Nigeria by January,” what he is actually telling you is that the grain from the silos that were released in April by Presidential decree have not been replenished, and that we stare starvation in the face — in January.
This article is purely the opinion of the writer, Cheta Nwanze and does not represent the opinion of Nairametrics.