Nigeria’s agricultural output for 2018 declined, aided by the spate of insurgency in the war-torn North-Eastern states, farmers-herders crisis in the middle belt and floods that destroyed farmlands across the country.
Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) GDP report shows that growth in the sector has been on the decline since first quarter 2017, with marginal recorded growth only in the fourth quarter of the same year.
The GDP report shows that growth in the sector contracted from 3.06 percent in q3 2017 to 1.91 percent in q3 2018 year on year. The development is a major setback to government’s efforts in boosting food production in the country.
“The North-Central region has become a den of herdsmen and kidnappers,” said Dele Ogunlade, chief executive officer, Crest Agro Products.
“If the issue of herdsmen is not addressed then we should be ready for a food crisis because a lot of farmers are not farming large areas like before due to the high rate of insecurity in the region,” Ogunlade said.
The continuous onslaught by herdsmen has led to the destruction of agro raw materials and drop in output of major crops such as cassava, grains, oranges, mangoes and other commodities that serves as food and inputs for manufacturers in the food and beverage industry.
In 2016, 55 hectares of cassava farmland belonging to Oamsal Nigeria Limited were destroyed by herdsmen. The firm lost N23 million, yet no arrests were made and no compensation was given to it up till today.
“We received no form of compensation and up till now we are unable to plant cassava. Farmers are still sceptical to farm because their farms can be destroyed overnight by herdsmen and there is no form of compensation either through insurance or the government,” Oluwafemi Salami, chief executive officer, Oamsal Nigeria Limited, told BusinessDay.
Similarly, the flood incident that submerged farmlands across the country also impacted on agricultural output for the year.
This affected the country’s rice production and this led to a shortfall of the crop.
According to experts when severe floods occur, farmers incur huge losses, as their crops get submerged beyond a level they could thrive. Furthermore, fungal diseases usually become more rampant when extensive flooding overtakes farms, making diseases and pests infestation rampant.
“During flood there’s a lot of fungi development, which leads to a lot of fungal diseases in crop production,” said AfricanFarmer Mogaji, chief executive officer, X-ray Farms Limited.
In the four subsectors that makes up agricultural sector, growth in crop production contracted from 3.16 percent in q3 2017 to 1.87 percent in q3 2018. Also, growth in the forestry subsector contracted from 3.9 percent in q3 2017 to 3.6 in q3 2018.
The solutions proffered by experts to address the issue of flood include the need to construct more and better drainage systems across the country, and more dams to be developed to take up water from presently overworked reservoirs.
The experts further pointed out the need for farmers to adopt humidity resistant seeds and effective fungal chemicals, which they described as important in managing crop loss.
“We need to engage more seeds that are resistant to high humidity,” Mogaji said.