Nigerians hoping for a respite in the cost of living crisis may not find it this year as experts have predicted that the worsening insecurity and changing climate will keep food prices high.
According to them, climate change and insecurity will alter and disrupt the farming cycle in 2023, and the production of key staples such as rice and maize is unlikely to replenish depleted stock owing to last year’s flooding incidences, till at least in the first half of 2023.
“We need to grow more food to drive down prices and this looks unlikely owing to critical issues such as insecurity and climate change that have been curbing crop production in recent years,” Abiodun Olorundenro, operations manager at Aquashoots Limited, said in a response to questions.
“What this means is that food prices will remain high in 2023 owing to the shortfall, maybe until the third quarter when we have a new president,” he said.
With food prices climbing to record peaks last year, millions of Nigerians are already facing devastating hunger and malnutrition levels.
In a 2022 combined report by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), World Food Programme and the United Nations, Nigeria is listed among five other countries as the ‘hotspot of global hunger’ – where people are facing catastrophic levels of hunger.
“Food prices will remain high but there will be no famine in 2023,” said Ibrahim Kabiru, national president of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria.
“Climate change is going to still impact production this year like last year. Its impact is becoming devastating yearly. The government is yet to address the insecurity issues that have been limiting production. All these will keep food prices up this year,” Kabiru said.
He added that the sector will record growth at a slower pace in the year, calling on the government to support farmers to grow food all year round.
Nigeria’s food inflation, the key driver of Nigeria’s headline inflation, hit 24.13 percent in November 2022, and over 90 percent of the country’s working population spends 60 percent of their income on food and related expenses, analysts say.
The surge in inflation led to a 12 percent increase in household consumption expenditure to N27.3 trillion in the first half of 2022, the highest in five years, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.
Read also: Global food prices hit record high in 2022
The situation has made many Nigerians poorer than they were in 2021, with 63 percent of the population (133 million) suffering from multidimensional poverty.
“Food prices will remain high. Nothing is going to happen now until after the elections,” said Edobong Akpabio, chairperson of the agriculture and allied sector group of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“FX scarcity is not going to change this year; it will worsen and ease until after the elections. We still import a large amount of our food and this means it will be more expensive.”
Florunsho Olayemi, chief executive officer at Sammorf Agro-Consult Limited, said the disappointing harvest last year owing to the impact of climate change has created a shortfall in some major staples Nigerians consume.
He noted that the shortfall coupled with the surge in key inputs such as fertilisers will keep food prices up for most of 2023.
However, analysts at Financial Derivatives Company Limited project a decline in food prices in 2023. “Looking into the future, we believe that there will be some relief in 2023 as geopolitical tension fades and commodity prices return to their pre-COVID levels.”
“This will bring succour to the pressure on domestic prices and inflation is expected to start moderating from the second quarter of 2023. Nigeria’s headline inflation for 2023 is projected to average 16.2 percent,” they added.