- Title: NIGERIA: Nigeria's food prodcution sector suffers neglect
- Date: 15th May 2012
- Summary: NIGER DELTA, NIGERIA (FILE) (ORIGINALLY 4:3) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF OFFSHORE OIL RIG CHILDREN WALKING PAST OIL PLANT OIL PLANT
- Embargoed: 30th May 2012 13:00
- Location: Nigeria
- Country: Nigeria
- Topics: Economy,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA4K97NB0XP7CFOEB3PP0I2190H
- Story Text: Food prices in Nigeria will continue to rise as a result of insecurity, bad roads, high fuel transportation costs and an overall moribund agricultural sector, which has been ignored in the largely oil driven economy, unless the government prioritises farming, analysts say.Market vendors display their fresh produce in neat piles at the local Lagos market hoping to attract more customers and make better sales today.
Business has been slow lately; consumers buy less and complain that produce is becoming too expensive.
Food prices in Nigeria have been on the rise in recent months, making it difficult for many to meet their usual dietary needs.
Data released on Tuesday (May 15) by the National Bureau of Statistics, indicated that Nigeria's inflation shot up to 12.9 percent in April from 12.1 in March, weighed on partly by a recent spike in food prices.
In urban areas like Lagos the inflation rode at 13.4 percent in April compared to 12.4 in rural areas.
For many residents like Ruth Martin, budgeting for the family's meals is becoming increasingly difficult.
"I just bought the yams now, I bought seven yams. I bought it for 3500 naira ($22) what I was buying like ($0.95) before per yam, they told me it is 350 ($2) today, so how is it coming down? It is not coming down at all," she said.
Market traders like Fasaki Rafat also decried the high price of food saying things have changed over a very short period of time. Rafat added that fewer people now visited her stall which wasn't the case just a few months ago.
"Previously we used to sell a bag of rice for 7,000 naira ($45) but now we sell the same for 9000 naira ($57), food is so expensive, they should find a solution to it. Previously we sold a bag of beans between 17,000 naira ($108) and 15,000 naira ($96), but now it goes for 25,000 naira ($159)," she said.
Nigeria's oil and gas industry -- Africa's largest, provides around 80 percent of government revenues but as the energy sector has rapidly expanded, other areas of the economy have been in decline, leaving the country cripplingly import-dependent.
Though the government had set aside about 1.6 million dollars over the next few years to unlock the potential in agricultural production, processing and infrastructure, many in Africa's second biggest economy are yet to enjoy the benefits.
Modernization of Nigeria's agricultural sector is key to raising the quality of life of the country's rural population, where the vast majority survive on less than $2 a day and feel the country's oil riches are shared out among a chosen few.
Olusola Dada an Economist based in Lagos says food prices will continue to spike unless government takes drastic measures to develop the moribund agriculture sector.
"We still depend on small scale farming, and in the rural areas they are producing for urban areas to consume and you find that the level of their production is so minimal compared with the people that want to consume in the urban areas," said Dada.
Dada also added that the country's poor transport infrastructure and bad roads contribute to the spiralling food prices.
Nigeria has vast arable land, favourable climate and water bodies that favour agricultural production. Most produce consumed in urban areas is transported by traders from the rural areas where roads are in bad shape or non-existent.
It's hoped that plans to rehabilitate various railway tracks in the country will help improve things.
"Things have to be done about the transportation and that is why if this railway system that government is talking about, can be achieved within the shortest time possible, then most of the things (goods) that are being transported on the road can now be transported on the rail, in good strength as we had many years back," said Dada.
Analysts expect the upward trend in inflation to peak later this year, before it tails off slightly.
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