• Monday, June 17, 2024
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Flooding and threat to safe food globally

Flood: Hunger looms as farmers count losses in Edo

Barely less than a week from now, the international community would celebrate the World Food Day. The event, which would take place on October 16, has the theme: “Safe food today for a healthy tomorrow.” The theme stresses the importance of production and consumption of safe food, which has benefits for global economy and over 8 billion people globally.

Safe food is vital to human health and wellbeing. Bearing in mind various challenges plaguing the world today such as the COVID-19 pandemic, worsening insecurity, Russia-Ukraine War, and surging cost of fertilizer and other inputs, most people are worried about how safer food makes its way from farms to their dining tables. Even farmers are equally perturbed globally because of the effects flood will have on the production of safe food.

The kind of flood we saw in Pakistan, according to a scientist, is exactly what climate projections have predicted for many years. The scientist further argues that it is also in line with historical records showing that heavy rainfall has dramatically increased in the region since human started emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

The welfare of poor Nigerians is deteriorating daily due to rising prices of food items in the market. The volatility in food prices is attributed to insecurity among other factors in the Northern part of the country

flooThe flood in Pakistan has affected more than 33 million people, killing more than 1,500 so far and destroying more than a million homes, according to media reports. But the report from World Weather Attribution, a collection of mostly volunteer scientists worldwide who conducted real-time studies of extreme weather, shows that global warming was not the biggest cause of the catastrophic floods that we have seen recently. Public affairs analysts are worried whether the international community has failed Pakistan. Those who expressed concern strongly believe that an “extraordinary event like this requires an extraordinary response.”

One would not blame those who expressed their concerns as the floods have triggered one of the worst global climate fuelled humanitarian crises, leaving fears of starvation and disease in the wake, with the United Nations reportedly calling for $800 million in its latest humanitarian appeal for the country.

Nigeria is not left out of the global flood challenge. The Nigerian Meteorological Agency had earlier warned in the year that at least 32 out 36 states in Nigeria were expected to experience a high risk of flooding this year. Already, report has it that Benue, Jigawa, Nasarawa, Anambra, Kogi and Ebonyi states have recorded incidents of flooding in the last one month or thereabout. Flooding has destroyed most of our roads in affected states. Houses have been submerged in the floods and properties worth millions of naira destroyed. Many have been rendered homeless because of floods.

With the flash floods and release of water from the Ladgo Dam in Cameroon destroying hundreds of farmlands, it is predicted by some Nigerian farmers that hunger levels in Nigeria may rise. This, according to a BusinessDay reporter, will pose serious challenge for a country whose inflation is at 17-year high, led by food inflation at 23.12 percent.

Accordingly, the reporter stated that it was predicted that hunger crisis would worsen as floods drown farmlands in Nigeria. The report reflected that the country’s largest rice farmland had been submerged. The reporter suggested that there was likelihood that the number of Nigerians going to bed hungry daily may rise as heavy rains and flash floods had destroyed many farmlands in key agricultural producing states.

The crux of the matter is that rising food prices are seriously affecting the wellbeing of Nigerians, especially those that are poor. The welfare of poor Nigerians is deteriorating daily due to rising prices of food items in the market. The volatility in food prices is attributed to insecurity among other factors in the Northern part of the country.

Famers are being killed, kidnapped or forced to pay ransom to terrorists in the North. The consequence of protracted insecurity in the Northern part of the country has led to abandonment of farmlands. The few who go to their farms have adopted a tactics for their survival. So help them, Lord!

Read also: Flood destroys farmlands, submerges buildings in Anambra

Adverse weather conditions in the past few years have equally affected food security. A rise in temperature is changing production patterns negatively in some of the world’s food basket. Extreme weather conditions are also responsible for low food production.

At this time last year, it was reported by international agencies that the world produced enough food to feed everyone on the planet. The problem then was accessibility and availability, both of which are disrupted by extreme weather, food waste, and worst of all – conflict in some parts of the world.

Besides flooding, conflict displaces families, destroys state economies, ruins infrastructure and halts agricultural production. These are challenges facing the world and indeed Nigerians.

Or, are we going to say that we are not experiencing these challenges in Nigeria with the high level of insecurity in most parts of the country? The UN released a report in 2021 that about 500,000 people in the North East of Nigeria are at risk of facing starvation.

We have seen in some parts of the country where flooding, erosion, severe drought and temperature rise coupled with rising sea level, etcetera have threatened fisheries and food security.

Food prices are rising in Nigeria while the country’s inflation is on the increase. Some economists believe that a rise in food inflation has therefore been one of the stumbling blocks for the Nigerian economy.

As long as we live, we must eat daily. How then will Nigeria reduce the hunger of most citizens before 2030? We need to ask this question because by 2030, the UN through its Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) expects everyone worldwide to have good – quality food to lead a very healthy life. Specifically, Goal 2 of the SDG expects all nations including Nigeria to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

Achieving these goals will entail having an effective transportation systems, improve storage facilities and supply chain mechanisms at federal, state and local government levels. For Nigeria, this is a tall order because of poor infrastructure and epileptic power supply output. It will take years for these infrastructural challenges to be corrected. If these challenges can be tackled within a short period, say 5-10 years, hopefully productivity and incomes of small-scale farmers will improve significantly. And citizens will have safe and sufficient food to eat.

But the nation needs policies and strategies that will promote food security. In the immediate and long term, policy decision makers in Nigeria must show the will to manage the flood in most parts of the country so that the citizens can have access to nutritious food at affordable price. Let’s take our destiny in our own hands instead of waiting endlessly for international agencies that are not likely to attend to us. Thank you.