Hunger bites harder as $2.6bn food is locked behind ‘bars’

Contrary to earlier claim by one of the serving ministers that there is no hunger in the land, statistics have shown that, with about $2.6 billion, over N795.6 billion locked up behind the borders, hunger is biting harder than ever.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had said, informal trade across land borders is estimated at $6.9 billion between 2013 and 2014 alone. Out of the amount, it said, food alone accounts for 75.7 per cent. This means that, food accounted for $5.22 billion, and in one year, it accounted for about $2.6 billion or a conservative of N795.6 billion.

Now faced with this sudden shortfall, Nigerians do not seem to buy the idea that, you must suffer today to enjoy tomorrow. A hungry man perhaps cannot think straight, that is perhaps why, they wonder what the minister is talking about after all.

Foremost analysts at Afrinvest recalled, “As we expected, the FG’s decision to shut land borders since August 22nd, 2019 weighed on consumer prices, especially food items. Informal cross-border trade conducted through land borders is sizeable, estimated at $6.9 billion by the CBN between mid-2013 and mid-2014. The share of food in informal cross-border trade was 75.7 per cent ($5.22 billion) within the same period, which we believe wouldn’t have changed significantly since”.
Unsurprisingly, food inflation advanced to 13.5 per cent Year-on-Year ( Y-o-Y) in September (August: 13.2 percent) following a faster Month-on-Month (M-o-M) upswing in the food index to 1.3 per cent from 1.2 per cent in August 2019.

The increase in food inflation Y-o-Y and M-o-M was the first in four months and notably, this was in contrast to the deceleration usually observed following the onset of the harvest season.

The fear is that, this would mask the reprieve usually provided to food prices from harvest in the last quarter of the year, especially as the festive season is upon us.
“Our near-term outlook on inflation is negative, hence we revise our average monthly inflation forecast higher to 11.5 per cent from 11.3 per cent for 2019.  In the short term, elevated food prices due to persistent insecurity in the middle-belt and the rest of Northern Nigeria, overdue adjustments to prices of electricity and petrol and the heightened risk of a currency devaluation are the many downside risks to inflation”, said Afrinvest.

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