By Sumayyah Olapade
The Federal Government budgeted about N874.83 billion for the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development from 2016 to 2021, while agricultural imports into Nigeria were estimated at N7.81 trillion during the same period, according to our correspondent’s checks.
The highest agricultural imports into the country during the period under review were recorded in 2021, with products worth N2.74 trillion imported last year.
In contrast, the fewest imports within the same time period were reported in 2016. Nigeria’s agricultural imports were valued at N656.4 billion in 2016.
Agric business operators frowned at the development, citing a variety of reasons for the massive imports when compared to what was budgeted and frequently not fully released to the agric ministry during the review period.
According to data from the ministry’s 2016 to 2021 budgets, the government budgeted approximately N874.83 billion for the ministry to drive the country’s agricultural sector over the six-year period.
Whereas data from 24 different quarterly reports obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics on ‘Foreign Trade in Goods Statistics’ with respect to total imports of agricultural goods into Nigeria revealed that N7.81 trillion 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 capital project budget in 2017 was N103.79 billion, while the ministry’s combined capital (N118.98 billion) and recurrent (N53.81 billion) budgets in 2018 totaled N172.79 billion.
The FMARD’s capital and recurrent budgets in 2019 were N107.21 billion and N57.68 billion, respectively, for a total of N164.89 billion.
Its capital budget for 2020 was N124.4 billion, with a recurrent budget of N58.69 billion, for a total of N183.1 billion.
The ministry’s capital budget for 2021 was N110.24 billion. It received N69.22 billion for recurring expenses, bringing its total budget for the fiscal year to N174.46 billion.
Meanwhile, the NBS’s Foreign Trade in Goods Statistics show that the total value of agricultural goods imported into the country last year was N2.74 trillion.
According to the bureau’s quarterly reports, agricultural goods imports were N667.16 billion, N789.1 billion, N652.08 billion, and N630.2 billion in the fourth, third, second, and first quarters of 2021, respectively.
Food or agricultural imports totaled N1.713 trillion in 2020, with the country spending N532.4 billion, N503.4 billion, N415.6 billion, and N261.4 billion on agricultural imports in Q4, Q3, Q2, and Q1 of 2022, respectively.
In 2019, N959.48 billion was spent on agro-commodity imports, with N233.3 billion spent in Q4, N239.9 billion in Q3, N249.95 billion in Q2, and N236.33 billion in Q1.
Imports of agricultural goods totaled N851.7 billion in 2018. Imports totaled N218.8 billion, N224.3 billion, N224.5 billion, and N184.4 billion in the fourth, third, second, and first quarters, respectively.
According to the NBS, the total value of agricultural goods imported into Nigeria in 2017 was N886.7 billion. This was stated in its fourth-quarter 2017 report.
According to the Q4 2017 report, the total amount of agricultural goods imported into the country in the preceding year of 2016 was N656.4bn.
According to various quarterly reports, the major agricultural goods imported into Nigeria included durum wheat, crude palm oil, and palm olein, among other things.
Operators in the sector decried the massive imports of agricultural products into Nigeria, attributing this to the industry’s numerous challenges.
Kabir Ibrahim, National President of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, told our correspondent that the drop in exports and massive imports were caused by reduced productivity in Nigeria.
He added that a lack of agro-inputs and insecurity were also major challenges for industry and its operators in Nigeria.
“Our productivity has now decreased, which means that the quantity available for export has decreased, and as a result, we must rely on imports to meet local demand,” he explained. This is concerning not only for farmers, but for all genuine stakeholders in the agricultural industry in this country.”