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How Nigeria, others can avoid chronic food insecurity – IMF

Climate events, which destroy crops and disrupt food transportation, are intensifying food insecurity in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa, where Russia’s war in Ukraine and the pandemic are also adding to food shortages and high prices.

According to a new report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), protecting food production and distribution from weather events begins with climate-resilient infrastructure.

The report, titled ‘How Africa Can Escape Chronic Food Insecurity Amid Climate Change’, revealed some infrastructure that will improve food production and accessibility if in place, as some of them have been proven to be viable in systems where they have been adopted.

Some of the frameworks it considered include solar power, for example, which it said will facilitate irrigation, water access, and temperature control for food storage. “Equally impactful is a flood barrier that protects ports and roads critical to food distribution,” the report said.

Digitalisation is also crucial as it gives farmers access to early warning systems and mobile banking as well as platforms to purchase fertilisers, seeds, or sell produce, connecting small producers to large vendors, it said.

“A pilot project in Ghana uses blockchain technology to improve incomplete or missing land records,” it said. Similarly, Mozambique and Tanzania are expanding title and survey registers and developing digital land administrative services, with World Bank support.

Read also: Nigeria inches towards IMF bailout on mounting debt

The IMF report also identified that social cash transfers/assistance that is targeted and far-reaching can help people buy food and rebuild after weather shocks, making families and small businesses able to invest in resilience-building equipment and technology.

It also said access to larger markets can incentivise investment in agricultural production networks and value chains, facilitate knowledge spread — such as how to plant drought-resistant crops — and spur competition. “One positive step in this direction is the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 countries, which covers most goods and services,” it said.

Empowered producer organisations, according to the report, can reach remote climate-vulnerable agricultural communities.

It said this will help spread new technologies such as digital pest-control devices and high-yield seeds that tolerate heat and drought and improve climate adaptation training and market information.

An explanation the report gave is that governments can also help farmers build resilience against weather shocks by setting up regulations that are better targeted and streamlined. Appropriate water-use regulations, for example, will reduce the cost for farmers to establish and expand irrigation systems, it said.

Along the same lines, efficient seed registration, like in Kenya, will multiply seed supply and provide access to resilient seeds, the IMF said.

It said fertiliser testing, labeling, and registration requirements will also help farmers access contaminant-free fertilizers appropriate for specific weather shocks, soil, and crops.

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