Food Imports Hit N3tn Over Flooding, Insecurity – CBN

by Ella

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) reported a substantial expenditure on food imports in 2023, disbursing a total of $2.13 billion to meet the nation’s food requirements. This significant outlay is part of a persistent demand for imported food products, even as Nigeria is often regarded as the food basket of Africa.

Rising Food Prices and Import Dependency

According to CBN’s quarterly statistics, the forex released for food imports remained high throughout 2023, underscoring a consistent demand despite the country’s vast agricultural potential. This import dependency comes amidst a notable rise in the average price of imported food commodities, which surged by 34% between April 2023 and April 2024.


The inflationary trend in food prices across sub-Saharan Africa is exacerbated by global factors, as the region heavily imports its staple foods. This dependency poses a significant challenge to Nigeria’s economy, which has a large agricultural sector but struggles with issues like inadequate infrastructure, insecurity, and climate change.


Breakdown of 2023 Food Import Expenditure

The CBN’s disbursement for food imports was substantial each month in 2023, with figures as follows:


January: $245.7 million


February: $163.6 million

March: $268.4 million

April: $240.9 million

May: $238.3 million

June: $206.1 million

July: $58 million

August: $95.3 million

September: $119.9 million

October: $132.4 million

November: $235.9 million

December: $126.2 million

This cumulative expenditure, though significant, was $644,000 less than the $2.7 billion spent on food imports in the previous year.

Food Inflation Trends

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported a sharp increase in food inflation, with the rate rising from 15.92% to 40.53% between April 2023 and April 2024. Key contributors to this surge include millet flour, garri, bread, wheat flour, yams, and various oils and fats, among others.

However, on a month-to-month basis, food inflation showed a decrease from 3.62% in March 2024 to 2.50% in April 2024. This decline was attributed to a fall in the prices of items such as yam, Irish potatoes, and certain beverages.

Challenges and Expert Opinions

The high food import bill highlights the ongoing challenges in Nigeria’s agricultural sector. Efforts to boost local production and reduce import dependence are hampered by factors like insecurity and climate change.

Kabir Ibrahim, National President of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, emphasized that while Nigeria has reduced its dependence on some imported items, the overall reliance on food imports remains significant. He projected that the figure could increase in 2024 due to ongoing challenges faced by farmers.

Professor Yusuf Muda, Managing Director of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, called for detailed data to differentiate between total food consumption and food import expenditure. He stressed the importance of understanding the types of food being imported and their relevance to the country’s consumption patterns.


The high level of food imports in Nigeria, driven by factors such as flooding and insecurity, underscores the urgent need for effective strategies to boost local agricultural production and ensure food security. Addressing these challenges is crucial for reducing import dependency and achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of eradicating hunger by 2030.



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