The Federal Government budgeted an estimated N8.68tn for agriculture and food imports from 2016 to 2021, according to a report.
The PUNCH reported that of the estimated N8.68tn, about N874.83bn was budgeted for the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, whereas the imports of agricultural goods into Nigeria during the same period were estimated at N7.81tn.
It was gathered that the highest imports of agricultural goods into the country during the period under review were recorded in 2021, as products valued at N2.74tn were imported last year.
On the other hand, the least imports within the same duration were reported in 2016. Nigeria’s agricultural goods imports in 2016 were estimated at N656.4bn.
Operators in the agric business space frowned at the development, outlining a plethora of reasons for the massive imports when compared to what was budgeted and often not fully released to the agric ministry during the review period.
Data from the 2016 to 2021 budgets for the ministry indicated that the government budgeted about N874.83bn for the ministry to drive the country’s agricultural sector during the six-year period.
Whereas data analysed by our correspondent from 24 different quarterly reports obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics on ‘Foreign Trade in Goods Statistics’ with respect to the total imports of agricultural goods into Nigeria showed that N7.81tn was spent on food imports.
An analysis of the budgets for the agriculture ministry showed that in 2016, the ministry got a budget of N46.17bn for capital projects and N29.63bn for recurrent expenditures, making it a total of N75.8bn for that year.
Its budget for capital projects in 2017 was N103.79bn, while both the combined capital (N118.98bn) and recurrent (N53.81bn) budgets for the ministry in 2018 was N172.79bn.
In 2019, the FMARD’s capital and recurrent budgets were N107.21bn and N57.68bn respectively, translating into a total of N164.89bn.
Its 2020 capital budget was N124.4bn with a recurrent budget of N58.69bn, making it a total of N183.1bn.
The ministry’s 2021 capital budget was N110.24bn. It got N69.22bn for recurrent expenses, bringing its total budget for last year to N174.46bn.
Meanwhile, data from the Foreign Trade in Goods Statistics of the NBS on total imports of agricultural goods imported into the country last year was N2.74tn.
Figures from the bureau’s quarterly reports showed that in the fourth, third, second and first quarters of 2021, the agricultural goods imports were N667.16bn, N789.1bn, N652.08bn and N630.2bn respectively.
Food or agricultural imports in 2020 gulped N1.713tn, as the country spent N532.4bn, N503.4bn, N415.6bn and N261.4bn importing agricultural goods in Q4, Q3, Q2 and Q1 respectively in 2022.
A total of N959.48bn was spent on agro-commodities imports in 2019, with N233.3bn spent in Q4, N239.9bn in Q3, N249.95bn in Q2 and N236.33bn in Q1.
For 2018, agricultural goods imports consumed N851.7bn. The amounts spent on imports in the fourth, third, second and first quarters were N218.8bn, N224.3bn, N224.5bn and N184.4bn respectively.
The NBS put the total amount of agricultural goods imported into Nigeria in 2017 at N886.7bn. It stated this in its fourth quarter report for 2017.
The Q4 2017 report also revealed the total amount of agricultural goods that were imported into the country in the preceding year of 2016 was put at N656.4bn.
It was observed in the various quarterly reports that the major agricultural goods imported into Nigeria included Durum wheat, crude palm oil, palm olein, among others.
Operators in the sector decried the huge imports of agricultural products into Nigeria, attributing this to the myriad of challenges in the sector.
The National President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Kabir Ibrahim, told our correspondent that the drop in exports and huge imports were due to reduced productivity in Nigeria.
He said the lack of agro-inputs and insecurity were also major constraints confronting industry and its operators in Nigeria.
He said, “Our productivity has gone down now, which means that the quantity available to export has gone down and as such we have to rely on imports to meet local demand. This is worrisome to not just farmers but to every genuine stakeholder in the agricultural industry in this country.”