Nigerians spent $1.04 billion on food importation in first six months of 2021 as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) increased its foreign exchange supply to importers.
Breakdown of the forex usage between January to June, shows that $163.60 million was spent on food products import in the first month of this year.
The amount increased to $197.73 million in February, and in the following month, $171.05 million was spent as the forex supplied dropped further towards the end of H1 2021.
In April, over $156.30 million was used for importation of food products, and in May, the forex supply declined again to $135.76 million, but ended June food import with $213.58 million.
2021 H1 import levels surpass previous periods
The import level rose by 23.81 percent when compared to the forex used to import food into Africa’s largest economy last year H1, which was put at $840.18 million.
This year’s First-Half disbursement was higher than the $1.02 billion spent on food import in 2019 as Nigeria benefits from being one of the less affected countries amid the rising COVID-19 delta variant.
Factors that pushed 2020 forex usage down
Gap between H1 2021 and the corresponding period was induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, the trade movement restriction, as well as short supply of FX from forex generating sector like aviation.
Another factor that impacted supply of forex during the COVID-19 thick period was the directive from President Muhammadu Buhari to the CBN, ordering the apex bank not to release forex.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, had quoted Buhari as saying, “Nobody importing food should be given money.”