Food production suffers, prices balloon as flood devastate farmlands
Written by MaryGift Sunday on November 16, 2020
For most farmers, the year 2020 has not just been devastating but a difficult period to scale through in the business of agriculture in Nigeria.
Many farmers across the country are lamenting the huge financial losses running into several billions of naira so far incurred this year.
According them, although various factors contributed to this monumental agricultural loss, the major contributors were the devastating floods of 2020 and the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The agricultural losses this year are colossal; the devastating floods and the coronavirus disease worsened our situation as farmers the more,” the National President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Kabir Ibrahim, told newsmen.
Ibrahim, who spoke during an interview, added, “Of course, the effect of this will be felt in the prices of agricultural commodities nationwide.”
In its latest Selected Food Prices Watch report for September 2020, the National Bureau of Statistics confirmed the hike in food prices across the country.
“Selected food price watch data for September 2020 reflected that the average price of one dozen of agric eggs medium size increased year-on-year by 5.24 per cent and month-on month by 0.37 per cent to N480.76 in September 2020.
This was “from N478.97 in August 2020, while the average price of piece of agric eggs medium size (price of one) increased year-on-year by 3.87 per cent and month-on-month by 0.28 per cent to N42.90 in September 2020 from N42.78 in August 2020.”
The average cost of an egg as at October 2020, based on market surveys, particularly in Abuja, was about N55, which was also confirmed by the Director-General, Poultry Association of Nigeria, Onallo Akpa.
Akpa told newsmen that the production cost for eggs had skyrocketed, as the price of feeds for poultry such as maize was getting out of the reach of many poultry farmers.
“Maize farmers are complaining of the impact of floods, COVID-19 and others on their production, a development that has also raised the cost of feeds, which directly pushes our production cost up as well,” he stated.
The NBS also stated that the price of rice appreciated in September 2020, and this cost further increased in the succeeding month, based on findings from marketers and agro-dealers.
“The average price of 1kg of rice (imported high quality sold loose) increased year-on-year by 39.07 per cent and month-on-month by 2.87 per cent to N516.13 in September 2020 from N501.71 in August 2020,” the bureau stated.
Going by the bureau’s findings, it therefore implies that a 50kg bag of rice sold for about N25,806.5 as at September this year.
The cost of the commodity hovered between N15,000 and N20,000 earlier in the year, depending on the location of purchase.
“Similarly, the average price of 1kg of yam tuber increased year-on-year by 29.11 per cent and decreased month on month by -4.08 per cent to N245.62 in September 2020 from N256.06 in August 2020,” the NBS added.
Speaking also on the cost of farm produce and the cause of the price hike, the President, Nigeria Cassava Growers Association, Segun Adewumi, said the floods in various parts of the country left sad tales on the lips of farmers.
He said, “The high level of flood this year affected cassava production. For instance, in Kogi State, most of the cassava cultivated in that state ended up as decayed crops because of the flood situation there.
“We experienced similar situations in Bayelsa and other states that are not even known for flooding. Some states in the South-West were also affected and this is one reason why cassava production was not as high as earlier targeted.”
Setback to food production
In September, PresidentcMuhammadu Buhari lamented the floods in Kebbi State which claimed lives and destroyed farmlands.
He described the destruction of farmlands as a huge setback for his regime’s commitment to local production of food.
He was quoted in a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, as saying, “I am particularly sad over this incident because it’s a setback to our efforts to boost local rice production as part of measures to stop food importation.
“Kebbi State is the focal point of our policy to produce rice locally as part of this administration’s commitment to agricultural revival which suffered relative neglect in favour of food importation.”
The President added, “With the loss of six lives and still counting; thousands of hectares of land flooded and estimated economic losses of more than one billion naira by rice farmers in Kebbi State, we face a major setback in our efforts to boost local food production.
“This bad news couldn’t have come at a worse time for our farmers and other Nigerians who looked forward to a bumper harvest this year in order to reduce the current astronomical rise in the costs of food items in the markets.”
Although the President said the Federal Government was working with Kebbi State to address the development, his position on the setback caused by the flood was corroborated by the Coordinator, Nigeria Agribusiness Group, Emmanuel Ijewere.
According to Ijewere, the floods also damaged several roads, which invariably led to an increase in the cost of haulage.
He said many truck owners became reluctant to move to certain locations, a development that shot up the cost of delivering agro-commodities to markets.
Ijewere said, “The unpredictable challenge this year was the level of the damage caused by flooding. It really caused a setback to food production. The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be stabilising, as we hope we don’t have a second wave.
“If we don’t, then the pandemic will no longer be a major issue in terms of price fluctuations. But the flood was or caused a big issue and it really hampered production.”
On his part, the AFAN president described the setback caused by floods in various states as colossal.
Ibrahim said, “The 2020 flood destroyed rice farms in Kebbi, Kano, Jigawa and many other states. The destruction in Kebbi was known in public because it was colossal and almost a total loss.
“In Jigawa, there were some rice plantations that were recoverable and I believe they’ve been recovered now. In Katsina, we had pockets of flooding that also devastated rice farms.
“It affected some states in the South-West, South-South and South-East but the colossal effect was largely seen in Kebbi and Jigawa states.”
On why food prices were on the increase, he said the flood situation was further worsened by the impact of COVID-19
“Remember we encountered COVID-19 at its peak this year, which prevented farmers from going to their farms for about three months and it was after the cessation of the lockdown that work resumed gradually,” Ibrahim said.
The farmers’ president added, “This affected production’ coupled with the floods as I explained earlier. Also we had issues of insecurity, devaluation of the naira and inflation too, but these are minimal when compared to the severity of the floods and COVID-19.”
Also, PAN’s director-general explained that the cost of poultry products had continued to increase because of the hike in prices of feeds for poultry accessed from crop farmers.
Akpa said, “The cost of production is high. Maize jumped from N90,000 per tonne to N170,000 per tonne in the last five months. Also, the price of soybean meal has jumped from N120,000 to N180,000 per tonne.
“So on daily basis the price of these commodities that we get from farmers are on the increase. You could also understand that with the increase in the prices of petroleum products, whether gas or petrol, and a nearly 100 per cent rise in electricity cost, the cost of our production will definitely shoot up.”
Akpa insisted that the cost of egg should be more than what it currently goes for in the market.
He said if poultry farmers decide to sell eggs at a profitable rate, the average Nigerian might find it tough to access the product.
The poultry farmer said, “There is no way the price of egg will be stable. It is going to be on the increase and I will tell you that the increase in the cost of egg does not even match the cost of production.
“If you want to use the cost of production to determine the price of a crate of eggs today, I think the average Nigerian will not even be able to buy it. Because the price of ingredients have jumped.”
Akpa further stated that poultry farmers were aware of the impact of flooding on crop production, adding that operators in their space commiserated with colleagues particularly in the rice value chain over the loss of lives and resources.
Kebbi State suffered the highest loss in terms of the impact of flooding on its rice farms.
The flood swept through 11 Local Government Areas of the state including Argungu, Birnin Kebbi, Bunza, Suru, Koko-Besse, Yauri, Shanga, Bagudo, Maiyama, Jega and Dandi.
Major rice-producing Local Government Areas were among those affected, as farmers and other stakeholders described the loss in Kebbi this year as monumental.
Kebbi State Emergency Management Agency had valued the loss by farmers in the state as a result of the 2020 flood at N5bn.
The agency’s Chairman, Sani Dododo, reportedly stated that over 450,000 hectares of rice plantation in lowland areas were submerged in the flood, adding that crops in some highland locations were not spared.
He noted that over 50,000ha of that millet, sorghum, maize and sugarcane plantations were swept by flood in Kebbi, but stressed that rice farms were worst hit, as 90 per cent of farms in the state were rice farms.
Also speaking on the impact of flood on food production, the cassava growers association’s president stated that the unpredictable nature of this year’s rainfall also affected production adversely.
Adewumi said, “There is increase in the price of food and when you look at it critically, you would realise that the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with the flood situation impacted negatively on food production.
“Firstly, the COVID-19 pandemic stalled activities for months and immediately it started subsiding, we observed that the rain stopped for like two months, particularly in the South-West, despite the fact we are in the raining season.”
He added, “You will notice that there is no maize in town currently as we use to have before and this is because of the change in rain pattern coupled by the pandemic. All these contributed to the hike in food prices.”
NIHSA predicted 2020 flooding
The Director-General, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, Clement Nze, had announced in May 2020 that Nigeria would encounter massive floods this year.
Also, in its 2020 Annual Flood Outlook publication, which was presented to the public in May 2020 by the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, NIHSA predicted that some parts of at least 102 Local Government Areas in 28 states were within the highly probable flood risk areas.
The agency stated that parts of 275 Local Government Areas in the 36 states of the federation, including Federal Capital Territory, were within the moderately probable flood risk areas.
It stated that the remaining 397 Local Government Areas fell within the low probable flood risks areas.
NIHSA stated that the states that were contiguous to Rivers Niger and Benue, namely, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Anambra, Delta, Edo, Rivers and Bayelsa were likely to be affected by flooding.
It stated in its 2020 AFO that coastal flooding was expected in Rivers, Cross river, Delta, Lagos, Ondo and Bayelsa states.
On account of poor drainage systems, the agency stated that flash and urban floods were expected to occur in major cities across the country including Birnin Kebbi, Sokoto, Lokoja, Kaduna, Suleja, Gombe and Yola.
Others include Makurdi, Abuja, Lafia, Asaba, Port Harcourt, Yenagoa, Lagos, Ibadan, Abaokuta, Benin City, Oshogbo, Ado Ekiti, Abakaliki, Awka and Nsukka.
NIHSA stated, “To give the 2020 AFO publication the urgency it desrves, the Minister of Water Resources had long notified all the state governors on the level of flooding to expect in their respective states.
“He (water minister) indicated the names of the Local Government Areas to be adversely affected in each state.”
On the other hand, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic came as a wild shock, as it grounded Nigeria’s economy for about three months, around the end of the first quarter and in parts of the second of this year.
The Federal Government effected a massive lockdown of the economy, as also implemented in many nations of the world, in a bid to stall the spread of the dreadful virus that killed millions of persons globally.
The way forward
Despite the challenges posed by the massive floods in various locations and the devastation caused by COVID-19, farmers stated that the agriculture sector would bounce back in due season.
The AFAN president advised farmers to start dry season farming as the country gradually moves into the dry season.
Ibrahim said, “The water will clear and so we are advising our farmers to do dry season farming. This is because when you have flood, there will be enough water, but the water will recede at some point.
“So you take advantage of this by planting crops like wheat and rice because these crops grow very well in moist lands.”
On his part, the agribusiness group’s coordinator called for proper education for farmers in order to equip them adequately on how to manage flood situations and unforeseen circumstances.
Ijewere said, “If you look at the people who are very mostly involved in agriculture, they are people who cannot take advantage of technology. It is not so difficult nowadays to determine whether there is going to be flooding, the level rainfall, etc.
“If we have more educated people in agriculture, it will minimise the consequences of flooding in the sector because they will be better prepared for it. As at now, there is little we can do, apart from informing them.”
He added, “In some cases few of them take it seriously, but in most cases many of them don’t take it seriously. So issues like this bring to fore the advantages of technology in the sector.
“Many farmers are still analogue in their thinking, but if we have more digitalised farmers, they will be better prepared to manage flood.”
Ijewere said government should also assist farmers by providing them right support.
When told that the government had been supporting farmers through the Central Bank of Nigeria, the agribusiness expert replied, “We need to understand one thing: the CBN is not set up to intervene in agriculture.”