Abubakar Kyari, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture, Food, and Security, has expressed concerns about food shortages in the country and discussed the possibility of closing borders to address the issue.
During an interaction with the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance, and Other Financial Institutions, Kyari highlighted the challenges faced by Nigeria, including rising inflation, food prices, and a foreign exchange crisis.
Kyari mentioned the undocumented amount of food exports to neighbouring countries, driven by strengthening the CFA currency against the Naira.
”This situation has made Nigerian food products more affordable in neighbouring countries, leading to widespread smuggling across porous borders,” he said.
The minister emphasized the need to secure food for Nigeria’s 230 million people while addressing the economic challenges.
”The government aims to ramp up local production to counter the food shortage.
”However, if economic conditions persist, we may choose between sealing borders and prioritizing food production for Africans,” he noted.
He identified several factors contributing to the food shortage, including inadequate planning for the 2023 farming season, farmers’ insecurity, and a foreign exchange crisis.
Kyari also highlighted the impact of the unavailability of foreign exchange, noting instances where investors from India, China, and Turkey purchase Nigerian crops at high prices to earn foreign exchange.
He announced plans to initiate 200-250 hectares of rice farming in the medium term, acknowledging challenges such as the scarcity of paddy and maize hindering implementation.