• Saturday, June 15, 2024
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BusinessDay

Nigeria’s food system under growing strain

Netherlands points way for Nigeria to become major food exporter

Nigeria’s food system has come under tremendous pressure since 2020 when the pandemic disrupted the supply chain, leading to a production shortfall and sending prices of staples to record levels.

COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war, and the impact of climate change, among others, have put pressure on Nigeria’s food system and worsened the country’s food insecurity position, which is already a critical issue.

Worsening insecurity in the country, especially in the northern region where the bulk of the food is grown, means that a significant proportion of farming is disrupted, thus leading to shortages.

The incessant attacks against farmers across the country have led to increased cases of market disruptions and loss of livelihoods.

According to a report by Save the Children International, armed groups killed more than 128 farmers and kidnapped 37 others across Nigeria between January and June 2023.

Read also: FG partners NESG, US to drive safe food systems in Nigeria

“All these challenges are a clear threat to our food production and that’s why we are grappling with insufficiency, and the attainment of food security has become a mirage,” Ibrahim Kabiru, national president of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, said.

Kabiru, however, stressed the need for governments at all levels to address the issues of insecurity while promoting mechanised farming, technology, and innovation as well as deploying climate-smart agriculture.

“The current move by Mr. President on the attainment of food security by declaring a state of emergency if taken through the whole hog by stemming, insecurity, improving mechanisation, and embracing STI (science, technology and innovation), and creating centres of excellence in all the six geopolitical zones to ensure proper optimisation of attaining staple foods in all the regions, will ensure the attainment of sustainable food security in Nigeria,” he added.

The pressure of rising inputs and energy costs has further heightened food shortages in the country amid worsening insecurity. Inflation in Africa’s biggest economy hit 27.33 percent in October, the highest in 18 years, and food inflation rose by 31.52 percent in the same period.

Availability of fertiliser and other key inputs became an uphill task, with prices more than tripled across the country.

Read also: Nigeria suffers $105bn hidden costs of food system – FAO

Philip Ugochukwu, a farmer and member of the Ginger Growers, Processor and Marketers Association of Nigeria, said that farmers’ access to improved seeds has remained a major challenge of food production in Nigeria.

According to him, many smallholder farmers who are the major food producers in the country record low quality yields due to poor seeds used for farming.

“Many of these farmers use the same seeds for several farming seasons, and most times these seeds are not treated before they are used. This is because they do not have access to improved seeds. This is a major issue that we must address,” he said.

Read also: How Nigeria can strengthen food system amid global challenges

According to him, another issue is that most farmers produce foods of low quality as they do not adhere to good agricultural practices.

“They do not even have access to extension services to guide them through farm practices, and this is also affecting our food exports,” he added. “We see our agricultural produce being rejected by foreign countries due to improper use of fertilisers and pesticides, which renders these foods unhealthy for consumption. There are other issues of poor storage facilities, transportation and finance.”