WHY FOOD CRUNCH LOOMS
Across Africa’s most populous country, communities and crops of sorghum, maize, rice, cassava, and vegetables are under water, while fish farms were swept away with crops and fish farmers and aid workers warning of a possible food crisis.
Nigeria, where the current population is 217,933,707 people, was already tussling with high inflation and worrying levels of food insecurity. According to the National Emergency Management Agency, 31 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory have been impacted. The agency said 1,411,051 people have been affected; 790,254 displaced persons and 1,546 persons injured.
NEMA also revealed that 44,099 houses were partially damaged; 45,249 houses totally damaged; 76,168 hectares of farmland partially damaged and 70,566 hectares of farmland completely destroyed by the floods.
Kabir Ibrahim, president of All Farmers Association of Nigeria told AFP that flooding is still ongoing but farmers in Nigeria can safely say that between 60 to 75 percent of the yield expected is going to be lost because the World Food Programme (WFP) estimated that the total area of flooded cropland could be almost seven times higher.
More than 600 people have died and 1.3 million others were forced to leave their homes according to the latest figures given by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs Sadiya Umar Farouq.
Floods are not uncommon in Nigeria during the rainy season from May to November but it has been on the extreme this year. Officials and residents blame climate change but also coupled with poor planning and the release of excessive water from dams, a process that is meant to ease pressure.
We (#insideagroindus) believe there will be more hardship towards the end of the year and beginning of next year because food inflation year-on-year was already at 23.3 percent last month, in part because of ripple effects on the import-dependent country from the coronavirus pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war. Rampant insecurity with gunmen repeatedly attacking rural communities also forced many farmers to abandon their fields.
The WFP and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said last month that Nigeria was among six countries facing a high risk of catastrophic levels of hunger, even before the floods. The impact of the floods on food production is a real threat to the country and could lead to a major food crisis.
The FAO expressed a deep concern as food supplies were expected to be low due to the anticipated reduction in household production. FAO said the floods were also affecting livestock and had increased the risk of vector borne disease outbreaks such as cholera.
We believe that not only crop farmers are affected, fish farmers are also largely affected. The floods have not just destroyed farmlands, they have also prevented the transportation by trucks due to the to damaged roads and bridges, further pressuring the food supply.
We were hoping inflation would get a break with the (upcoming) harvest but now with the floods, it puts a big question mark on our forecast on inflation and it looks very serious but it’s difficult to judge at this point because there is an upside risk for inflation, for food price increases.
The previous colossal floods in Nigeria in 2012 cost nearly $17 billion, according to the World Bank. But in the meantime, the government said it was ramping up support to affected communities as President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the release of 12,000 metric tons of assorted grains from a national strategic reserve stock. But we are not sure it will be enough.
Our solution include that while immediate assistance is now obligatory, the IMF said it would be less costly to invest in preventive measures and policies. Countries should invest to help populations adapt to these types events rather than using resources after the fact. With this, we want to urge the government of Nigeria to desist from reactional methods of dealing, solving and approaching national issues.
While we encourage farmers to resume back to farm as soon as floods recede and not be daunted, we want to urgently call for government intervention to alleviate the effects of the flooding disaster, reduce hunger and encourage development of adapting climate change technologies to enhance food security and to show concern through compensating farmers who are affected by the flood so as to quickly recover from the excessive losses incurred as a result of the floods.
Government at all level should clear blocked drainage linkages and open flooded dams slipways to free the extreme water levels in a controlled manner and be ready to deploy an emergency response depending on how bad the situation turns out to be and also work with the stakeholders in the agriculture and agro processing sectors to work out alleviation measures. We however want to warn following our weather investigation, that there could be more floods until the end of November.