The recent food blockage from the northern part of Nigeria to the south has further exposed the flaw in food production, processing and marketing in the country, and the need to strengthen the nation’s agriculture sector.
North-based Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria had blocked movement of food items to the south, in protest against the alleged killing of its members and destruction of their property during the #End SARS protests and Shasha market crisis.
It consequently demanded N475bn compensation for the lives and properties they lost.
The blockade, which lasted few days, resulted in food scarcity in the south, and supply glut in the north.
In a chat with Financial Street, Advisory Board member of African Council for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Dr. Ikechi Agbugba, pointed out the effect of the food blockage to the country’s agriculture sector.
He said, “Indeed, food supply chains and items in Nigeria are increasingly getting expensive, especially in the southern region. Hence, the need to improve on the scope of farming, cultivation and merchandising.
“Among other dangers associated with the increase is the quantity of spoilt items, in the case of perishable foods.”
He added that food supply could discourage investors from making serious commitments in the agriculture sector until they perceive an ease in the current tension surrounding the industry.
Agbugba, who is also the International Coordinator of Africa Agriculture Agenda, noted that the problem led to the sharp decline in the price of tomatoes by over 70 per cent in the north during the crisis.
“Just last Thursday, March 4, 2021, when the ban on the supply of select food items were lifted, a basket of tomatoes, which costs about N20,000 (about $49), dropped to N9,000 and less, due to surplus and considering its perishable nature,” he said.
According to him, apart from the consequent onerous economic burden, the crisis could further lead to drop in taxes, loss of job opportunities, inflation and ultimately hamper the growth of the Nigerian economy.
His words, “Among other economic indicators, unemployment will rise, crime rate may increase thereby further weakening the political and socio-economic equilibrium between the north and the south.
“This is an eye-opener for the south, since it gives everyone the idea of what to expect in future. I hope the leaders and stakeholders of economic development in the region will learn from this to enable them encourage huge food supplies, thus enhancing, as well as ensuring, food security in the region.”
Nigeria recently exited recession. However, there are fears that the position may be upset by internal crises.
Meanwhile, a lecturer of Economics at the University of Lagos, Dr. Babatope Ogunniyi, while congratulating Nigeria for exiting recession so soon, said the position was still fragile.
“Internal crises should be curtailed. Herdsmen and other communal clashes should be stopped as well,” Ogunniyi warned.
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