Nigeria still relies on agricultural imports surging by 140.5% in Q1 2021

NIGERIA – Nigeria’s agricultural export stood at N127.2 billion (US$309m) in the first three months (January – March) of 2021, representing a 128% increase compared to N55.8 billion (US$135m) recorded in the previous quarter (Q4 2020).

This is according to the foreign trade report for Q1 2021, released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

In contrast to the N127.1 billion (US$309m) recorded in the corresponding period of 2020, this represents a 0.07% increase, reports Nairametrics.

Sesame seeds, fermented cocoa beans, and cashew nuts led the list of top agro-food exports during the period under-review, jointly accounting for 66.5% of the total agric exports.

MSC Cotton

Top on the list is sesamum seeds with an estimated export value of N41.94 billion (US$102m), followed by cocoa beans fetching N35.49 billion (US$86.37m); cashew nuts earning N13.71 billion (US$33.3m); coconuts accounting for N8.66 billion (US$21m); and ginger valued at N5.57 billion (US$13m).

The other exports include: Sesame oil at N3.42 billion (US$8.4m); Palm nuts and kernels worth N2.75 billion (US$6.69m); Shea cake earning N1.79 billion (US$4.39m); Soya bean totalling N1.72 billion (US$4.19m) and Frozen shrimps and prawns at N1.29 billion (US$3.14m).

The leading destinations for the Nigerian exports included: China, Japan, Turkey, The Netherlands, Malaysia, United States, Vietnam and India

Nigeria’s total value of trade in agricultural goods in Q1 2021 stood at US$1.84 billion

Agriculture imports rise by a larger margin

As exports increased in the first quarter, importation of agricultural items also surged by 140.5% year-on-year, and an 18.4% increase quarter-on-quarter to N630.2 billion (US$1.5 billion)

The leading commodity imported in the country was Wheat worth N258.3 billion (US$628m) from Lithuania, Latvia and Canada.


Edible mixtures or preparation of animal, worth N82.86billion (US$201.6m), was imported from Denmark and herrings were purchased from Russia (N15.8billion) (US$38.45m) and Netherlands (N14billion) (US$34m).

From the statistics, import value grew by a larger margin as compared to the exports, indicating that the country is yet to solidify its position in the world in terms of food production both for local consumption and export.

Growth of the agriculture sector in the country has been significantly impeded by production hurdles with the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, indicating that over the past 20 years, value-added per capita in the industry has risen by less than 1% annually.

It is also estimated that Nigeria has lost about US$10 billion (US$24m) in annual export opportunities from groundnut, palm oil, cocoa, and cotton alone as a result of the decline in the production of these commodities.

A PWC report identified poor transport infrastructure and services (road and rail), particularly in the rural areas as a significant cause of the current state of the agriculture and agribusiness sector.

Adequate processing and storage system for these agro products is also a major problem affecting the agricultural value chain, with farmers losing about 40% of their yields to poor storage facilities.

The total value of trade in agricultural goods in Q1 2021 stood at N757.4 billion (US$1.84 billion).

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