The federal government is considering shutting the country’s borders in a bid to halt the rise in the price of food.
Agriculture Minister Abubakar Kyari made this known during a meeting with the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance, and other Financial Institutions.
Kyari said the country faces undocumented food exports to neighbouring countries fueled by the strengthening CFA franc and the devaluation of the naira. This, he explained, has made Nigerian food products significantly cheaper, leading to widespread smuggling across porous borders.
“One CFA is N2.20kobo, this means 1000 CFA is N2,200, this is something that was, N400-N500 few years ago. Because of the devaluation of naira, our food is the cheapest around the neighbourhood, so you find a lot of undocumented exports which is smuggling across our porous borders”, Kyari said.
While the government prioritises ramping up local production, Kyari warned that continued economic challenges might force the government to make the difficult choice of sealing the borders.
“We are trying to ramp up production, what we are faced with unfortunately, is to see how we can secure food for our 230 million people and at the same time, if this economics continues , we have to either seal our border, or produce for all other Africans”, he said.
Kyari blames the food crisis on several factors, including the previous administration’s inadequate planning for the 2023 farming season, insecurity discouraging farmers, and a foreign exchange crisis. He also pointed to investors from India, China, and Turkey buying Nigerian crops at inflated prices to earn foreign exchange, often without repatriating it, depriving the government of revenue.
To address the challenges, the government plans to initiate 200-250 hectares of rice farming in the medium term. However, the government said the scarcity of paddy and maize poses significant hurdles to implementation.
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