An economic crisis, terrorist attacks and corruption are having an impact on Nigeria's food supply. The country needs to focus more than ever on its own production.




Official language

English, Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba


923,768 km²


USD 182 million

Population growth

Approximately 2.6% m

Rural population

95.2 million (52.2% of the total population)

Gross domestic product

USD 45.6 billion

Per capita annual income

USD 2,548

Share of agriculture in GDP


Severity of hunger according to the Global Hunger Index

Serious (Value: 25.5 / Trend: -8,1)

Share of the population suffering from malnutrition


Human Development Index

Index: 0.514 / Rank: 152 of 188

Share of the population living on less than USD 1.25 a day


Economic power with great challenges

With a strong oil sector, a growing information technology industry and flourishing trade, the Nigerian economy has grown at a very strong pace for years. As of 2014, it is considered to be the leading economy on the African continent. But in autumn 2016, the trend reversed, as low oil prices, a deteriorating currency and an uprising in the oil-rich south compelled Nigeria to invest more in agriculture. 


Nigeria is by far the most populous state in Africa, with more than 182 million inhabitants and a population growth of 2.6 percent. The population is overwhelmingly young. One third of Nigerians between the ages of 15 and 24 today are unemployed. This age group is expected to almost triple in size by 2050, according to forecasts. Supplying the population with food and creating productive jobs are especially pressing challenges for the government.  


Economic crisis and import dependency

While Nigeria's economy has grown at an annual rate of between 4 and 8 percent in the last ten years, GDP was down 15 percent in 2015 according to the World Bank, and the economy is expected to shrink even further in 2016. This will result in high price inflation, a loss of jobs and food shortages in some cases. The high unemployment rate and a weakening currency are having an impact purchasing power, including the ability of Nigerians to buy food.

Because the government has been able to rely on strong petroleum revenues, agriculture has long been neglected. Agricultural productivity in Nigeria is low among small farms. For this reason, food is imported, including of USD 4 billion a year in rice imports. The national currency, the Naira, fell by 17.5 percent in August 2016, resulting in an enormous increase in food prices.

A little over 52 percent of Nigerians live in the countryside, where 70 percent of the working population is employed in agriculture. They grow food such as rice, corn, potatoes, cassava and cocoa. Peanuts, rubber, cassava and yams are exported. Most people live in southern Nigeria, especially in the big cities. With an estimated 14 million residents, Lagos is classified as a megacity. The north is rather sparsely populated, except in the cities and the surrounding areas. The food situation is especially critical in the northeast.


Corruption, terror and conflicts

Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil exporter and the eighth largest in the world. But in many ways, this has proven to be more of a curse than a blessing. Due to corruption and mismanagement, the people have seen little of the profits from this "black gold". Almost two thirds of Nigerians live in poverty. Moreover, the relative prosperity in the predominantly Christian south feeds resentment in the Muslim north, which is poor in natural resources. Alongside economic crises, the security situation is also deteriorating, particularly in the northeast.


With the fragile security situation, hunger has returned to Nigeria.


The Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram is conducting a bloody campaign in that part of the country to spread its fundamentalist ideology, and for the control of fertile farmland. Over two and a half million people in Nigeria have been forced to flee. The extent of Boko Haram's terror first became visible in the areas which were retaken by the military: destroyed villages, ghost towns, scorched earth and poisoned wells. The United Nations estimates that tens of thousands of people are suffering from extreme deprivation, including almost a quarter million children in northern Nigeria, who are severely undernourished. Because of this fragile security situation, hunger has returned to Nigeria. In addition, there have for years been conflicts in northeastern Nigeria between shepherds of the Muslim Fulani people and sedentary Christian farmers. The conflicts are over grazing land, but the fighting, which at times is very intense, is religiously charged as well.



Nigeria's goal: a secure food supply

IMPORTED FOOD Rice was first introduced while Nigeria was under British colonial rule. In addition to rice, tea and wheat (wheat bread) are part of the everyday routine in Nigeria today. Rice has become one of the most important foods in the cities, and there are plans to reduce imports by increasing domestic production. The favorite dish of many Nigerians is Jollof rice: spicy rice with chicken, colored red by tomato sauce.

In recent years, the government has been striving to stimulate agricultural production. A paradigm shift in Nigeria's agricultural policy was initiated under its former Minister of Agriculture, Akinwumi Adesina, now President of the African Development Bank. The new policy is to significantly increase domestic production using modern technology and new methods of cultivation. To this end, the government is providing aid to promote the use of better seed, systematic use of fertilizer and improved methods of soil cultivation and storage in order to increase crop yields and reduce post-harvest losses. In addition, the supply of credit for small farmers is several times as high as before.


Government programs and development projects train farmers in modern cultivation and harvesting techniques. The Nigerian government is also working to promote management skills among small farmers, as well as conveying marketing opportunities through advisors. An increased focus on processing agricultural products within Nigeria will create added value and improve employment even in upstream and downstream segments of the agricultural sector.



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