Food prices in Nigeria have shot through the roof. But is the pandemic to blame?

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the global economy. Infection rates are rising. Have triggered social distancing guidelines, constant locking downs, the shutting of firms, travel restrictions, and salary reductions, all of which are contributing to an upcoming high unemployment crisis. The economic activity has drastically decreased, and so has the value chain for food supplies worldwide.

The situation in Nigeria is not any other. The country has implemented various strategies to combat the spread of the disease. They have included the escalating number of lockdowns across major cities. They also have closures of borders and restrictions on movement for people.

The measures have impacted every sector in the country’s economy. However, food prices have been the most devastating damage. In the recently published report, I examine what has been happening to the price of food in Nigeria. I discovered that prices had increased dramatically from February to June of 2020.

I set out to discover the causes behind the price increases. I found that the measures implemented to limit COVID-19’s spread have had a significant impact on the food supply in the country.

However, I also found there were other reasons for prices rising, even in Nigeria’s most food-producing regions. The reason I came to this conclusion was that it was due to factors not connected to COVID-19, like violent conflicts.

Many problems from the Nigerian farmer

In my research paper, I identified a range of issues that have had profound effects on the capacity of farmers to sustain their agricultural output. This includes more restrictive accessibility to loans, the complexity of loan repayments for farmers, and the lack of access to inputs for farming.

Other reasons I observed included how the closure of markets and the slow transport networks in Nigeria have led to wastage and a deficient supply of food. In addition, the closing of the border made it difficult to import food products, which further reduced supplies.

To complicate the situation was the lockdown instructions. The extension of the lockdown for two weeks in key cities led to panic-buying to ensure they had enough of food items. This led to an accidental rise in the cost of food items because of the unbalanced demands and availability.

The consumer price index for food has risen throughout the pandemic. It increased from 14.9 percent in February 2020 to 15.18 percent in June 2020, showing an increase of 0.28 percent in just four months. It is expected to rise to 17 percent by the end of September 2020. This is a significant increase from 13.39 percent in July 2019 and 14.09 percent in October 2019.

The unique situation in Nigeria was that food price hikes varied from state to state. Certain conditions made the impact of price inflation most severe. The state of Sokoto (northwest Nigeria) prices were up year over year by 17.12 percent, while within Plateau (north central) by 16.99 percent, Gombe (northeast) by 16.96 percent, Edo (south-south) by 16.71 percent in addition to Kano (northwest) 16.45 percentage. The states that had the lowest increase in food prices included Bayelsa (south-south) with 11.89 percent, Katsina (northwest) and Bauchi (northeast) with 13 percent, Nasarawa (north central) with 13.5 as well as Ondo the state (southwest area) with 13.53 percent.

A few of these states are situated in major food-producing regions in the country. Sokoto is the largest producer of cowpea, beans, groundnuts, garlic, sugarcane, wheat onions, and tomatoes. Sorghum, groundnut, sesame seed, maize tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers are grown extensively throughout Plateau state. In the same way, Gombe is well known for its groundnuts, ginger sesame seeds, cowpeas, tomatoes, and pepper. Plantain, as well as cassava oil palm, are mainly grown in Edo State. In addition, Kano has extensive production of garlic, rice as well as cowpea, sorghum pepper, wheat, and tomatoes.

What is the possible reason for the increase in food prices in these areas? Does this mean that much was not thought of before the outbreak began? What role did other attacks, such as Lassa disease, play in the lives of certain states that were affected?

Because the lower supply of food has been linked to a lower yield per hectare and lower availability of fertilizers, seedlings, and other inputs, what makes the current situation very difficult for Nigeria?

In my article, a possible indication of a rise in food prices, particularly in the most affected States, is the ongoing violent conflict that characterizes northern regions of the country.

The nature of conflict

Conflict, insurgency, and displacement have been in the news for the past six years throughout northern Nigeria. The removal of communities that were farming led to a decrease in the cultivation of arable farms, which resulted in lower yields per acre of land used for agriculture.

These communities were also in need of medical attention and food items. This put more pressure on food production.

Banditry, commotion, and farmer-herder conflict within the region’s north-central part of Nigeria remain unabated and have now spread into neighboring states. The situation is quickly becoming a major problem.

These terrible situations are exacerbated due to the pandemic.

What do we do next?

Food cost inflation is unlikely to get any better anytime soon in the event that the issues facing certain regions of the country are not resolved. This is true regardless of the fact that economic activity slowly increases with the ease of restrictions on lockdowns.

Nigeria is blessed with good arable land, good weather, and water sources and is able to be self-sufficient in its food production. Nigeria could be more than enough and turn into an important exporter of food products.

The flow of foreign capital and technological advancements in the sector could boost this possibility and increase the production of the local industry.

This will improve the security of Nigeria’s food supply and help the country to a higher position on the account balance, which is necessary for enhancing economic well-being and improving the lives of people.

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