‘Nigeria, others can stop $35b yearly food import with better land governance’
Stakeholders attending this year’s conference on Land Policy in Africa have called for fair and efficient land management to support moves to transform the continent, especially in the area of food production and industrialisation.
At the event co-organized by the African Union, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the African Development Bank, the stakeholders emphasized the importance of good land governance as well as effective land administration and sustainable land management for the African continent which spends over US$35 billion yearly importing food from the West.
For Nigeria, importation has been a major concern for economy managers largely due to the country’s self-insufficiency both in raw material production and processing.
This has also informed moves by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to restrict access to foreign exchange for importation of food and items that can be locally produced, as well as the Federal Government’s recent land border closure.
Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) showed that Nigeria recorded food imports of an average of N1.92 trillion per year and N1 billion every day from 1990 to 2011.
From 2016 to the first half of 2019, Nigeria spent N54.51 trillion importing manufactured goods, mostly food, and agricultural goods. Within the period, agricultural goods import gulped N38.24 billion while manufactured goods import gulped 19.51bn.
As a rich continent with vast agricultural and land resources, Africa should be able to feed all her people without any problems, Benjamin Laag, Counsellor for Economic Cooperation at the Germany Embassy in Abidjan, said in remarks at the ongoing 2019 Conference on Land Policy in Africa (CLPA2019).
Laag said due to technological improvements in agriculture, as well as in geospatial sciences and other relevant land sectors, the tools were available to implement policies to ensure fair and sustainable land policies are enacted and implemented in every country on the continent.
“Almost every person on the continent has been affected by corruption and very often the distribution and registration of agricultural and urban land is the reason for it,” he said.
He indicated that the German government has supported Africa’s efforts to address land corruption in its bilateral and global programs on land and has also supported transparency initiatives such as the Land Matrix and Land Portal, as well as financing Transparency International’s program on Land and Corruption in Africa.
“Data and research on the linkages between land and corruption is now available and I am personally looking forward to hearing from participants presenting their findings,” said Laag.
“Addressing land corruption is an important but sensitive topic and this conference has the courage to talk about it,” he added.
“We need African solutions to African challenges. And in this regard, Germany appreciates the huge effort that the AU is making through the African Land Policy Center and other AU institutions, to promote and implement the AU agenda on land,” he said.