Experts predict likely food shortage in 2013

Despite the spirited efforts and financial commitment by the Federal Government to ensure that Nigeria does not experience food scarcity in the post-flooding era, some experts believe that the humanitarian and other socio-economic interventions might not necessarily forestall food shortage in the medium term.

Speaking about the devastating flooding crisis that swept through thousands of farmlands in major parts of the country over the past two months and the implications for security, Oxfam GB Associate Country Director in Nigeria, Tunde Ojei, said as much as Federal Government and other stakeholders’ timely intervention would go a long way to mitigate the negative impact of the floods, these might not fully prevent food shortage next year.

Ojei, who said his organisation had just completed an assessment visit to one of the states badly affected by the floods, said whereas efforts by government to provide inputs in form of hybrid seeds and funds to the farmers would serve as immediate relief to the affected farmers but that when the crops barns and livestock washed away by the floods are taken into consideration, the likelihood of food shortage may not be ruled out.

“I think the Federal Government has done so much to show that it was totally concerned about the plight of the farmers with the President personally visiting the affected states and giving assurances of full support. We have also seen the support of the private sector.

“We expect that these interventions will help the farmers to recover from the initial shock and make them to get back to their farmlands and start planting. But the truth is that if we look at the quantum of crops in storage barns and livestock that were destroyed by the floods, then it will be quite clear that some gap may be seen in food supply by next year.

“Already, we are seeing one of the immediate effects in the prices of food items. If you go to the market now you will notice that the prices of food items are going up. We feel the interventions are excellent but they may not totally rule out the possibility of food shortage next year,” Ojei said.

Another expert in food crops production and management, Mr. Ayobami Ajayi, told ‘Sunday Mirror’ that while the level of funding committed to the Federal Government’s intervention in the disaster areas would go a long way to help the farmers, he believes that there is need to do more by all stakeholders to leverage on the drive for timely recovery of losses recorded from the floods.

Ajayi said the magnitude of the losses suffered by farmers was so much that there is serious concern of probable food problems in the country by next year, adding however that if the current commitment shown by the Federal Government is sustained and complemented at the state levels, the food shortage gap might be reduced.

“With what we have seen and read in the newspapers so far, it is only logical to say that food shortage may be witnessed next year. But we must commend the Federal Government for rising to the challenges created by the floods through funding and other humanitarian supports that are being given to farmers,’’ the expert forecast.

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