High input costs, insecurity, climate change take toll on food prices

…as wet season farming commence

The high cost of farm inputs, insecurity, and climate change are 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.

Input prices ranging from improved seeds, fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and poultry feeds are high as a result of the dollar crisis in the last 15 months and a shortfall in the supply of major crops used in their production.

The worsening state of insecurity in the country has continued to deter agric investments in key crop-growing states while putting existing agribusinesses in constant peril.

Also, changing climate pattern is negatively impacting farmers’ productivity, leading to a low output that cannot meet the demand of 200 million people, thus resulting in demand overshooting supply.

“Prices of fertilizers and other inputs such as herbicides, pesticides have doubled and this will lead to further increase in food prices,” said Ibrahim Kabiru, national president, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN).

Kabiru said skyrocketing prices of inputs could discourage many farmers from farming this planting season.

“Even the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI) fertilizer that was sold for N5,000 last year is now being sold for N9,500 despite subsidy from the government. This indicates a 90 percent increase in production costs on just fertilizers alone,” he explained.

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He urged the government to ensure that farmers’ productivity is higher and food is readily available to address the escalating food prices in the country.

The average prices of all staple foods across major cities in the country have surged by over 100percent in the last year and not in any way showing sign of slowing down, causing food inflation to hit 22.72percent in April 2021 and core inflation at 18.12percent, according to data from National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The country’s poultry industry has come under tremendous pressure over the last 17months as farmers suffer severe losses owing to the scarcity of grains and escalating prices.

The situation is taking a heavy toll on poultry farmers as many have shut down their farms while others are slaughtering less weighty chickens to deal with the surging price of maize and soybeans – key inputs accounting for most of its feed costs.

Similarly, issues of terrorism, banditry, and herdsmen attacks in Nigeria’s northern region as well as armed robbery and kidnapping in the south are putting farmers and their investments in constant peril.

As a result, growth in the agricultural sector has been inconsistent and constantly slowing since the third quarter of 2016 over worsening insecurity issues.

First-quarter figures from the GDP report showed that growth in the sector slowed from 3.42 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020 to 2.28 percent in the first quarter of 2021.

Nigeria loses about $2.3 million (N943 million) annually due to the conflict between farmers and herders and states where these conflicts take place to lose an average of 47 percent of tax generated internally, according to Mercy Crops 2015 report.

“We cannot attain food security when there is insecurity. Farmers should be able to carry out their farming activities without any form of fear and not having to pay bandits to harvest,” Abiodun Olorundenro, Manager, AquaShoots Limited said in a telephone response to questions.

“The insecurity situation has forced many farmers to abandon their farmlands and this is impacting our national output. Also, it has created a shortfall that is leading to a surge in food prices,” he said.

Apart from the impact of high input cost and worsening insecurity on food prices, climate change has been altering and disrupting the farming cycle in the country for over three years, leading to a surge in food prices and importation.

AfricanFarmer Mogaji, chief executive officer, X-Ray Consulting Limited said, said that climate change has become a critical issue for smallholder farmers and that the impact on agriculture is becoming more intense.

“It will be a major determinant of food production and Africa’s vulnerability to climate change is closely linked to the continent’s low adaptive capacity and increasing dependence on resources sensitive to changes in climate,” he said.

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