The National Bureau of Statistics in its latest inflation report revealed inflation rate dropped further for the second consecutive month to stand at 17.93% in May 2021 from 18.12% recorded in April 2021.
According to the report, the consumer price index (CPI) which measures the inflation rate increased by 17.93% (year-on-year) in May 2021. This is 0.19% points lower than the rate recorded in April 2021 (18.12%).
Another main indicator in the report was the Food inflation index, which dropped from 22.72% recorded in April 2021 to 22.28% in May 2021, the second consecutive decline in the food index. On a month-on-month basis, the food sub-index increased by 1.05% in May 2021, up by 0.06% points from 0.99% recorded in April 2021.
Food inflation has been on the rise in Nigeria thanks to multiple factors ranging from insecurity to transport and infrastructure, however, with the rising cases of insecurity in Nigeria, especially with the death of farmers at the hands of armed herdsmen and other militia groups, it is no surprise that Nigeria is producing less food.
Food inflation remains a hot discussion topic among Nigerians. An observation by a Nigerian on Twitter read:
“One year ago, one paint rubber of garri was N400 and the year before that, it was N350. As of today, it is N1, 100. Garri, which for years we’ve called food for the poor man is definitely no longer for the poor.”
Another Nigerian, @Clarenceonyeks, asks: “What level of budgeting and financial literacy prepares you for Garri going from NGN450 a paint bucket to NGN1500 in less than 18 months? What do you do in that situation if your salary is NGN52,000?”
The World Bank in its recent report on Nigeria published this month stated that: “On the supply side, a combination of unfavourable weather, insecurity and conflict, and pandemic-related shocks affecting food production is pushing food prices up,” clearly citing the effects of insecurity on Nigeria’s farming output.
They added that despite agriculture serving as an employer of last resort, family farms absorbed excess labour during economic downturns, however, the periodic influx of displaced urban workers into the rural economy kept agricultural wage rates low, generating uncertainty that discouraged investment in productive capital.
The World Bank revealed that due to the nature of the economy, marginally employed workers became prime recruiting targets for criminal organizations and insurgent groups like Boko Haram.
“Limited employment opportunities pose both economic and security challenges.
As in other developing countries where informality is high, Nigeria’s official unemployment rate is a poor indicator of labour market outcomes because unemployed workers receive little public support and the incentives to remain employed are compelling, even in marginal activities that generate low returns,” the World Bank reported.
“In addition to their negative economic consequences, rising levels of unemployment and underemployment are both a cause and a consequence of conflict and insecurity,” they said.
Basically, Nigeria’s rising economic inequality has created an ecosystem where recruitment into non-state violent groups is seen as an easy escape from poverty, which has created an insecurity situation affecting farmers leading to food inflation.
“Food is national security. Food is craft. Food is everything when you think about it,“ he said, quoting Jose Andres Puerta.
“People often ask why food availability is also a factor in insecurity. It’s because people would do literally anything to survive whether legitimately or not and in a country where justice is sold to the rich and powerful, the fair application of the law is subjective,” he added.
Adetokunbo stated also that Nigeria’s food crisis was exacerbated by COVID19 and the government’s “lackadaisical attitude to resolving herders and farmers problems.”
He also warned that Nigeria’s agricultural sector has been bedevilled by a lack of precise policy direction that emphasizes on productivity per hectare with an export-focused goal.
“The country is also low on mechanization with the ratio at 1: 6000 hectares and mostly 75HP or lower,” he stated. According to him, due to covid19 and rising insecurity, land cultivation between those who can afford mechanization services for their operations declined from 70,000 to less than 7,000 hectares, translating into a loss or non-production of grains like maize, soybean and sesame seed; and perishables like pepper, tomatoes, etc.
He urged the FG to sit up in the fight against insecurity as Nigeria is already on the brink of famine, simply because farmers, especially smallholder farmers who constitute the major block, have stopped going to farms.
“Can we pull back from this? Yes! Timeline with all hands on deck? 30 months, and please, let’s not go the Anchor Borrowers’ Program route, the civil service will truncate any policy no matter how well thought out and its intentions.”
With smallholder farmers scared of going to their farms due to rising insecurity related to kidnappings and killings by non-state violent actors, Nigeria is clearly heading for a food crisis that needs to be stemmed or the effects would be even more insecurity, as the World Bank warns.