Why There May Be Food Shortage In 2016 | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Why There May Be Food Shortage In 2016

Posted: Mar 7, 2016 at 3:17 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Nicholas Uwerunonye

Despite prediction of heavy rainfall for Nigeria in 2016 by experts, there is growing worry that the year may witness acute food shortage on account of what is perceived as poor synergy in the use of climatic data and water resource management in the country.
Independent also learnt that this possibility is of serious concern among ministry officials at the Ministry of Agriculture. These findings were the high points of what Audu Ogbe, Minister of Agriculture came away with on his recent tour of dry season farming hubs in Jigawa, and some other Northern states recently.
Jigawa State is one of the wheat growing hubs in the country. There is also Kano and Taraba states. With the country looking to reducing dependence on imported wheat as a way of shoring up foreign exchange and ensuring food security, the Federal Government had made year round farming a priority. Apart from wheat, rice and maize are crops with premium emphasis in government agenda.
While warning of imminent weather borne pandemic, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that Nigeria should brace up for adverse weather conditions, such as heavy rainfall and flooding this year.
WHO attributed this to El Niño, a warming of the central to eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. It affects rainfall patterns and temperatures most intensely in the tropical regions of Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America, which are particularly vulnerable to natural hazards.
According to the global body, this would lead to severe drought, flooding, heavy rains and temperature rises, all known effects of El Niño that can lead to food insecurity and malnutrition, disease outbreaks and acute water shortages.
Since the flooding of 2012 that resulted in destructions of lives and properties, Federal government through then Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development had prioritized the need to ensure food security, firm up water resource mapping and management. But for food security, according to the new thinking in the Ministry, weather reports adequately distilled for the benefit of local farmers during the dry season and proper utilizations of government’s irrigation systems are critical components for the success of this project.
“Farmers need weather reports on when to plant some crops like wheat because it has a very small window,” explained an aide to Audu Ogbe, who was part of the recent tour but declined being mentioned.
The view in the ministry for now is that the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NIMET, creates an autonomous unit explicitly for agriculture weather information. Also, there is clamour for more access to country’s dams across the country for all year farming.