hunger risk

Emefiele’s cashless policy aggravates Nigeria’s food security

By Ben Ezeamalu

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Posted on May 18, 2023 08:33

Yam sellers arrange yam tubers in stacks for sale at Bodija market in Ibadan
Yam sellers arrange yam tubers in stacks for sale at Bodija market in Ibadan, Oyo, Nigeria August 2, 2022. REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja

The Central Bank of Nigeria’s ill-advised cashless policy left many farmers in the rural areas scratching their heads over how to pay labourers during the planting season, a situation that could further worsen the country’s expected food shortage this year.

Agriculture, chiefly crop production, contributes a quarter of Nigeria’s economy and depressed spending in rural areas will have a blanket effect on the entire economy, a report by SBM Intelligence has said.

Typically, the planting season in Nigeria begins late February and early March which coincides with the first rains in several parts of the country.

The SBM report came weeks after UNICEF projected that nearly 25 million Nigerians are at risk of facing hunger between June and August this year.

“The agriculture sector, which contributes significantly to the economy, suffered from depressed spending, affecting farmers’ ability to pay for labour and resulting in reduced production,” stated the SBM report, titled ‘Strapped: Impact of the Cash Scarcity on Individuals and Businesses’, released on 16 May.

Coping mechanisms

“The cash shortage also affected trade volumes, as many

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