Input costs, floods seen shrinking agric output

Nigeria’s agricultural output in the second half of this year is expected to slow on the back of flooding and the continued surge in input costs, which have compounded the challenges facing farmers.

Industry experts who spoke to BusinessDay lamented that Nigerian farmers are still contending with escalating insecurity in the country.

According to them, the high cost of farm inputs, insecurity, and climate change is responsible for rising food prices in Africa’s most populous country, making it increasingly hard for Nigerian households to buy tomatoes, rice, beans, and other staple foods.

“In the second half, there appears to be pending disaster because we do not have any reserve, and food prices are going higher and higher with no hope of ever coming down as the inputs required for optimum production are also getting more expensive by the day,” said Ibrahim Kabiru, president of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria.

Read also: Higher input costs claim 88.7% of livestock feed revenue in Q1

“Fertiliser is going for a minimum of N18,500 for 20:10:10, while 15:15:15 is going for 27,000 and Urea is about 30,000 and still counting. How can farmers survive with this,” he asked.

The 20:10:10 and 20:15:15 are the NPK fertiliser blends mostly used by smallholder farmers across the country.

The high cost of key inputs such as seeds, pesticides, herbicides, and fertilisers across the country has continued to frustrate farmers, a development experts say may threaten the country’s production and the diversification drive of the government.

“I do not see the sector doing better in the second half than it did in the first half. Prices of fertilisers and other inputs such as herbicides, and pesticides have doubled and this will lead to further increase in food prices,” said Abiodun Olorundenro, operations manager at AquaShoots.

According to Olorundenro, skyrocketing prices of inputs are already discouraging many farmers from planting on a large expanse of land as many cannot afford the required input costs.

Apart from surging input costs, the farmers also based their pessimism on the recent prediction of the Nigeria Hydrological Services.

Kabiru said farmers are also worried about the threat flood incidence might bring in the second half. “We are fearful of the flood outlook released by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, which says flood will affect 32 states, and the food system will be severely challenged further,” he said.

Suleiman Adamu, minister of water resources, had in early May said high flooding would hit 233 Local Government Areas in 32 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

According to him, eight states will battle with tidal surges and rise in sea level in 2022 based on the 2022 Annual Flood Outlook for the country. “Rivers, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Lagos, Ogun and Ondo will experience coastal flooding due to tidal surge and rise in sea level,” he said.

According to experts, when severe floods occur, farmers incur huge losses as their crops get submerged beyond a level they could thrive. Fungal diseases usually become more rampant when extensive flooding overtakes farms.

“The current situation in the sector is not gloomy at all, and this would affect our production in the second. The country will also experience further increase in prices of food,” African Farmer Mogaji, chief executive of X-Ray Consulting, said.

Despite the numerous challenges in the sector, it grew by 3.16 percent in the first quarter of 2022 in real terms, higher by 0.88 percent when compared to the corresponding period in 2021. The sector contributed 22.21 percent to the total growth recorded for the period, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show.

Agricultural export for the first quarter grew by 58.35 percent to N202 billion from N127 billion in the corresponding period of 2021. The growth was driven by cocoa and sesame exports for the period.

Some industry experts questioned the NBS data for the growth recorded by the sector in the first half, stressing that the challenges that impacted the sector debilitated agricultural production.

“At times you wonder where NBS gets their data from. Our production has been on the decline, and many farmers cannot go to their farms and the data is still saying the sector grew, how?” Kabiru said.

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