THE continued rise in global food prices poses a great threat to food importing countries, including Nigeria. Let examines the issue and how to achieve self-sufficiency in food production.
The latest Report on Global Food Prices released by the Food and Agricutural Organisation showed that the world’s food import bill is expected to reach a new record of $1.290tn (N200tn) This amount represents a 20 per cent increase, higher than the global food imports in 2010.
And going by this report, Nigeria spent about N802bn on the importation of food items in 2011, owing to the spiraling food prices across the world.
Currently, Nigeria spends about N400bn on food imports annually. Of this amount, about N155bn is spent on the importation of rice, the most popular food in Nigeria.
Specifically, the FAO stated, “In international food trade, the global food import bill reached a new record of $1.29tn in 2011 – 21 per cent more than in 2010.
Low-Income Food Deficit Countries and Least Developed Countries would be hardest-hit since they would likely have to spend respectively 27 and 30 per cent more on food imports than pervious years, the organisation noted.
“Expenditures on imported foodstuffs for vulnerable countries could account for roughly 18 per cent of their total import bills compared to a world average of around seven per cent. High and volatile agricultural commodity prices are likely to prevail for the rest of this year and coming years” it said.
It further noted, “The next few months will be critical in determining how the major crops will fare this year. Although prospects are encouraging in some countries, weather conditions, featuring too little, and in some cases too much rain, could hamper maize and wheat yields in Europe and North America.
“International food prices, which earlier this year soared to levels seen in the 2007 and 2008 food crisis, dropped by a modest one per cent in May. The FAO Food Price Index averaged 232 points in May from a revised estimate of 235 points in April but was still 37 per cent above May 2010.”
However, the Director of FAO’s Markets and Trade Division, Mr. David Hallam, said the rise in global food prices was a great threat to food importing countries such as Nigeria.
He said, “The general situation for agricultural crops and food commodities is tight with world prices at stubbornly high levels, posing a threat to many low-income food deficit countries.”
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture put the amount the country spent on food imports, mainly rice, wheat, sugar and fish products in 2009 at N555bn.
According to investigations, more than N400bn was injected into the sector in 2009, while in 2010, agriculture accounted for only 3.7 per cent of budgetary allocation (recurrent N34.4bn and capital N49.9bn). However, between 1977 and 2005, the government’s funding for the sector was characterised by inconsistency.
In 1977, for instance, agriculture’s share of the national budget was less than one per cent; in 1980, it was 1.3 per cent; 1982, 4.2 per cent; 1983, six per cent; 1984, two per cent; 1985, five per cent; 1993, 3.2 per cent; 2000, one per cent; 2001, 4.2 per cent and 2005, 1.6 per cent.
But the National Project Coordinator, National Programme for Agriculture and Food Security, Mr. Bukar Tijani, told our correspondent that given the increase in global food prices, there was need to strengthen the National Programme for Agriculture and Food Security as well as the Fadama III projects in order to ensure that the country achieves self-sufficiency in food production.
The NPFS was set up by the Federal Government in July 2009, with the mandate of coordinating all donor-assisted agricultural and rural development projects in Nigeria as well as cooperating with the technical line departments of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to harmonise all activities towards boosting agricultural production.
On the other hand, Fadama is the Hausa word for an irrigable land, usually flood plains found along Nigeria’s major rivers. Such land is suitable for irrigated farming; fishing, traditional feed and water for livestock.
Tijani, who is currently coordinating donor-projects in over 8,500 sites across the country, said, “Nigeria has the natural and human resources to attain self-sufficiency in food production.
And one of the surest ways of achieving this objective is by strengthening the capacity of the National Programme for Agriculture and Food Security and the Fadama III projects.
“Currently, we are implementing the NPFS programme in 327 sites across the country. The main objective is to improve national food security and reduce poverty on economically and environmentally sustainable basis. Already, we have made significant progress in the area of crop production involving a total 112,425 hectares of land of rain-fed crop modules and 855 hectares of irrigated crop modules.”
He stressed the need for the country to seek technical assistance from developed countries as part of renewed efforts towards boosting food production.
He said, “Under the South-South cooperation with China, the NPFS has already facilitated the deployment of 53 Chinese experts and technicians to different agricultural projects across the country.
“Also, under the NERICA Rice Dissemination Project, we have mobilised 13, 495 farmers for seed production, yielding 2,211 metric tonnes and 8,334 hectares, cultivated for grain production, yielding 15,956.40 metric tonnes.”
And as part of the efforts to boost food production, Tijani said, “We are currently working on a number of major proposals like the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme and the Support to Small Scale Irrigation Infrastructure for Accelerated Rural and Agricultural Development in selected states in Nigeria. We have already submitted the proposals to major financiers for funding. The aim is to address key aspects of agriculture and food security, including productivity enhancement, linkages to markets and project management in the agricultural sector.”
As regards the Fadama III project, he stated that the intervention would go a long way in supporting the government’s drive towards achieving self-sufficiency in food production for the country.
He said, “The World Bank implemented Fadama I and II Projects in Nigeria. The Fadama I Project focused basically on crop production through supplementary water supply, which resulted in conflict amongst common resource users.
“Fadama II Project was implemented to address the problems identified in Fadama I by involving all the stakeholders in the common resource utilisation and some downstream activities such as value addition and marketing.”
He also said, “But Fadama III is a follow up to the Fadama II, which is now implemented in 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory. The objective of the project is to increase the income of users of rural land and water resources on a sustainable basis. It will support the government’s strategic objective of increasing food security, reducing poverty; creating employment opportunities as well as improving the standard of living in the rural areas.
“The Fadama III Project has a national coverage intended to operate in 7,400 Fadama Community Associations in 560 local government areas out of 774 LGAs to be covered in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. The project will directly impact 2.2million households with an indirect impact on 16 million households.”
Food production; Nigeria to be self sufficient soon- Dangote
MANUFACTURING company known as Dangote Group has reiterated its readiness to support the federal republic of Nigeria under President Goodluck Jonathan to boost the economy of the nation, with the optimism that with its ongoing agricultural projects across the country, Nigeria is on its way of being self-sufficient in the areas of food production.
The Group reiterated its determination to support the Federal Government in its effort to revolutionize the agricultural sector and make Nigeria self-dependent in the areas of food production. The Group which is reputed to be the single largest private sector employer of labour in Nigeria is currently investing in fertilizer, rice and tomato paste together with sugar production, among others. The Group is also building a 650,000bpd petroleum refinery which will be the single largest in the world.
Only last year the Group signed a Memorandum of Association (MoU) with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to invest $1billion for the establishment of fully integrated rice production and processing operations across the country.
The statement said the MoU and the planned investment are a response to government reforms of the Agricultural Transforming Agenda (ATA) launched in 2011. The statement said the Group has acquired farmlands in Edo, Jigawa, Kebbi, Kwara and Niger States totaling 150,000 hectares to be used for commercial production of rice paddy. The company will also establish two modern large scale mills each with capacity to mill 120,000 metric tonnes of rice paddy, while doubling the capacity within two years. The statement said this will become the single largest investment in rice production in Africa.
The rice plants estimated to produce 960,000 metric tonnes, representing 46 percent of total rice imported into Nigeria. Group President Aliko Dangote had said during the signing of the MoU that Nigeria,”is capable of producing rice that can feed the whole of West African sub region.” A statement from the Dangote Group also said it is investing in tomato paste production in Kano, as well as a $2billion fertilizer projects in Edo State.
The statement said however, the Group’s foray into agric and food processing business began in 1997 when it keyed into the backward integration policy of the government in sugar sub-sector of the nation’s economy.