Spiralling Food Inflation a Slippery Slope to the Abyss

Some have argued that food security is a key element of National security and it should be accorded the same level of seriousness and support given to the armed forces. In the last couple of weeks, we have experienced galloping inflation, especially in essential commodities, with prices changing daily in some instances. Social media has been awash with cries of hunger in the land with videos of people collapsing due to their inability to feed.

I will list out some of the causal issues that have exacerbated this spiraling inflation, though not exhaustive, may give us some pointers on how we can quickly nip this challenge in the bud.

1) Insecurity:- The menace of banditry that has gone on unfettered in the last 10 years, has now come full cycle. Farmers in our food baskets in the North have virtually abandoned their farms due to the fear of being slaughtered or at best being heavily taxed by marauding bandits. The bandits were given almost free reign during the last administration to the extent that they granted press interviews boasting of their exploits, some state governors have been accused of complicity as well. Also, the issue of farmer-herder conflict has been a recurring decimal all over the country, with no end in sight. This has greatly affected farm yield and outputs. Once again the last administration left this issue to fester unabattered. The present government inherited a near comatose or non-existent response to this menace, but nine months down the line they have not shown the level of vigor and seriousness needed to fight this cankerworm.

2) Devaluation /Floating of the Naira:- The hasty decision by the government of the day to float the naira without wide consultation, scenario planning, and putting in place adequate mitigation has created a string of unintended consequences, one of such, is the CFA rapidly gaining value more than the Naira. This has made our food cheaper for our neighbours to buy, we now have a situation in our hands, middlemen in the agriculture value chain seek to make brisk money by selling our food supplies to our neighbours, hence robbing us of the already inadequate food supply due to poor harvest because of insecurity.

Also, the pass-through inflation of the import component of our agricultural value chain has seen a meteoric rise in some of our staple foods. The poultry sub-sector is one of the most hard hit, the feeds are mostly imported, hence the skyrocketing cost of eggs.

3) Fuel Subsidy Removal:-

Once again the hasty decision of the present government to remove petro subsidy without putting in place adequate mitigation plans is another causal issue in the skyrocketing cost of food supply. Most of our food supply is distributed using road transportation which is largely powered by petrol and diesel. A near 300% increase in petro prices in one fell swoop is bound to add to the cost of food supplies

4) Multiple Taxation

It was recently revealed by FIRS that truck drivers pay as much as 40 different taxes moving food supplies from North to South, these are perhaps the documented ones, there are probably 100s of undocumented tolls by security agencies, this by no means contributes to the final cost of supplies.

Possible Solutions:

Near Term /low Hanging Fruit:- Immediate moratorium on all forms of taxation on food supplies. A presidential task force, comprising governors and security agencies should be set up to implement zero taxation on all food supplies across the country with heavy sanctions on those that flout such order.  Also zero duty as well on all food-related imports. This I believe will help in some little ways to help reduce the cost of food.

Medium Term:- The government needs to see the correlation between food security and national security. The entire security architecture should be rejigged and sensitized on the protection of farmers, protecting farmers is more important than political VIPs. Also, the issue of state police must be fast-tracked to ensure adequate hands in the protection of farmers and farming communities.

Long Term:- For decades we have been largely fed in Nigeria by smallholder farmers, which is not efficient. This form of farming is plagued with issues such as low yield per hectare, high post-harvest loss, etc. The government needs to invest heavily in mechanized farming, create an enabling environment for private sector players through single-digit loans, and adequate infrastructure in farm settlements such as roads, power, and shared storage facilities to reduce post-harvest loss. Also, the issue of modernization of our cattle/dairy industry must be fast-tracked and a timeline to abolish cattle herding in its entirety must be established.

Oladapo Kasumu

CEO Greenbles Agtech writes from Lagos.


  1. Honestly, you have hit the nail on the head. At this point, the government should be supported with ideas and ways to solve this issue.
    This is the time to suffer for the sins of the previous governments.!
    We will rise again but the right measures have to be in place for that to happen!


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