As a policy objective, the attainment of food security in Nigeria began facing challenges prior to independence when oil exportation began in 1958. But the challenges became pronounced and persistent after the commencement of large-scale oil exports in the early 1970s, when the country nearly abandoned agriculture in pursuit of newfound oil wealth. Self-sufficiency in food production and agricultural export earnings, aided by widespread cultivation of food crops and regional specialisation in cash crops – the cocoa mountains in the west, the oil palm and kernel heaps in the east, and groundnut pyramids in the north – began to diminish and disappear respectively. Within a few years after independence in 1960, the agricultural sector transitioned from a net foreign exchange earner to net foreign exchange drain.
The Naira continued to depreciate in the review week. At the parallel market, naira exchanged for N498/$ on January 27, 2017 and N500/$ on February 3, 2017. Despite the weekly sales of forex to BDCs and the significant improvements in the external reserves, the naira has continued to lose value to other currencies. The pressure on the naira has been triggered by escalating scarcity of forex in the spot market, likely due to forex hoarding. However, in the preceding week, the CBN sold $660 million in forwards contract in an attempt to manage liquidity and stabilize the naira. In the face of growing speculation in the parallel market, the monetary authority should institute mechanisms that would discourage excessive forex hoarding among licensed BDC operators. An initiative that monitors transaction dealings in the parallel market would go a long way in detecting erring BDC operators.
Available data shows that headline inflation reduced in most countries in the region in May 2017 relative to preceding months. Notably, headline inflation decreased in Nigeria (16.25 percent), Ghana (12.26 percent), Tanzania (6.1 percent), Senegal (1.8 percent), Namibia (6.3 percent) and Rwanda (11.7 percent), while it grew in South Africa (5.4 percent), Kenya (11.7 percent), Ethiopia (8.7 percent) and Uganda (7.2 percent). Cote dIvoire (-0.4 percent) recorded consumer price deflation. The decrease in consumer price in Nigeria, Tanzania and Ghana can be attributed to decreases in both food and non-food components of inflation. Regionally, all countries in Southern Africa recorded single digits inflation, however consumer price marginally increased in South Africa, for the first time in 2017 owing to spike in food prices6, and Botswana (both by 0.1 percent).
Recent NBS data on Nigerias real GDP growth rate declined from -0.36 percent in 2016Q1 to -2.06 percent in 2016Q2. With negative GDP growth rate in two consecutive quarters, Nigeria records its first recession in 23 years. Both the oil and non-oil sectors continued to contract by -15.59 and -0.20 percentage points, respectively, relative to preceding quarter. The worsening growth rate in the oil sector was largely driven by the decline in domestic crude oil production by 14.5 percent relative to preceding quarter