Nigeria and other countries across the West Africa region are projected to see a considerable decline in the production of grains – maize, sorghum, and millet in 2024 due to agro-climatic challenges, insecurity, and rising production costs.
This is according to a recent report titled ‘West Africa Regional Supply and Market Outlook’ published jointly by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), World Food Program (WFP), and others.
As a result of a reduction in production, trade restrictions, global geopolitical factors, and others, prices of staple crops such as maize, wheat, rice, and millet among others will increase above the five-year average price, the report noted.
“Notable annual declines in national cereal production are expected in Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Mali,” the FAO said.
It added, “At the country-specific level, Nigeria, which typically contributes slightly over 40 percent to regional cereal production, anticipates a significant decrease in production compared to both the previous year and the average.”
According to the international agency, several factors have contributed to the decline in cereal production in Nigeria, including insecurity in predominantly northern regions and rising costs of production inputs and farm operations.
Interestingly, the Nigerian production situation compared with other coastal countries’ sees a peculiar ambivalence, with Nigeria standing apart as the exception. As noted by the FAO, “Apart from Nigeria, all other coastal countries project an increase in production.”
Prices are also anticipated to be above the five-year average across most markets in the region due to expected production reductions, elevated global prices, insecurity along trade corridors, and high transport costs.
The report noted that these developments may pose challenges to food accessibility and affordability in the region, requiring vigilant attention from both policymakers and the public.
Food inflation in Africa’s most populous country has risen to record levels, hitting 32.84 percent in November last year from 24.32 percent in January.
The number of Nigerians who are food insecure has increased by 133 percent in three years as poverty deepens, according to the 2023 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report. It jumped from 63.8 million people between 2014 and 2016 to 148.7 million people between 2020 to 2022.
Experts opine that food security is intricately linked to overall security, and growth/development of any sort stalls in areas marked by insecurity, adding that it is one menace that must be tackled if the sector will make the progress it deserves.
“Moreover, Nigeria’s annual inflation continues to climb, exacerbated by the removal of fuel subsidies. Prices are projected to stay above average owing to the limited production performance, sustained demand, constrained humanitarian assistance, continuing trade disruptions, and security and socio-economic challenges in the region,” the report stated.
The report further highlighted positive regional production outlooks for most roots, tubers like cassava and yam, and cash crops due to the strong output of major coastal country producers.