Nigeria’s Food Security Crisis Worsening

Nigeria’s Food Security Crisis Worsening

Nigeria’s food security challenges may be getting worse as farmers in the country are reporting a decline in the production of some stable food, blaming a variety of reasons that include flooding due to climate change, inflation, insecurity and the fluctuation of the Naira.

This is just as the United States Department of Agriculture has projected a slight decrease in the production of rice, millet, cassava, maize and soybeans in Nigeria for the year 2024.

And although Nigeria remains the highest producer of some food crops like cassava and maize globally, gathering data for policy and investment decisions has never been a priority for the ministry of agriculture over the years.

Officials at the ministry in Abuja suggested LEADERSHIP Weekend should turn to external sources for data on production levels of food crops.

Despite an increase in the number of farmers, production levels of some essential crops in Nigeria is expected to experience a fluctuating trend with possible decrease in the 2023/2024 marketing year.

Although in the year 2022, food production index saw an increase, reaching 119.9 index points and even though experts said that this growth was modest, it was attributed to Nigerian farmers who despite several challenges, demonstrated resilience to flood and insecurity.

Latest available data from various sources, including the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Statista projected a slight decrease in production of rice in Nigeria from 5.355 million metric tonnes in the 2022/23 period to around 5.229 million metric tonnes for 2023/24 marketing year.

For crop like maize, production was 12.75 million metric tonnes in 2021 and is projected to decrease by 8 percent to 11 million metric tons in the marketing year 2024/25.

While Guinea Corn (Sorghum) production was 6.742 million metric tonnes in 2022/23 and is expected to decline to around 6, 700 million metric tonnes for 2023/24.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations over 31.5 million people in Nigeria are projected to face acute food insecurity between June and August 2024.

The latest data represent a significant increase of about 4.6 million people from the 26.5 million earlier projected in November, 2023 for the period.

The world food agency in its Cadre Harmonise report released in March, said that Nigeria has been grappling with multiple security challenges which has affected food production and access.

According to the report, several other factors contributed to the alarming food insecurity, including conflicts in the North-east, north central and north-west, fuel scarcity, naira devaluation, currency crisis, rising inflation and consumer price index.

Even as planting season begins, farmers in Nigeria may likely face decline in crop production this year due to the persistency of these challenges.

The National President of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Arc Kabir Ibrahim has voiced concerns over these challenges and the current state agricultural sector in an interview with LEADERSHIP Weekend.

According to Ibrahim, this decrease is attributed to a myriad of challenges that include insecurity, low levels of mechanisation, soaring costs of inputs, flooding, and heightened labour expenses.

The farmers’ leader said that these factors have collectively impeded the productivity of Nigerian farmers.

In response to these adversities, Ibrahim added that AFAN is taking a proactive stance by treating agriculture as a business and engaging in advocacy with the government.

The association called on President Bola Tinubu to implement sustainable subsidies for all agricultural inputs and to bolster security measures, thereby ensuring farmers can safely access their lands.

Although farmers seem geared up for the current farming season with optimism, hoping for the timely delivery of interventions promised by the government at various levels.

These interventions according to AFAN are crucial to overcoming the obstacles faced by the agricultural community and for the potential increase in production of the aforementioned crops.

He said, “Surprisingly there more farmers today but an increasing number of challenges to productivity, so the measurable production shows a decline in terms of what is available in the market.

“The decrease is due to the various threat factors such as insecurity, low mechanization, cost of inputs, flooding and increased labor costs”.

He continued, “As some efforts are underway from various windows such as NAGS-AP, Sustain Africa Initiative and the emergency on food security by Mr Presidrnt as well as the seeming change in attitude by the sub-national, I foresee a possible increase in production of the commodities.


 Why Production Of Rice, Beans, Others Dropped In Kwara

The level of production of rice, beans, millet, maize, groundnuts, yam and guinea corn dropped significantly within 2022/2023 wet and dry seasons in Kwara State.

Some farmers who spoke with our reporter blamed the drop in the production of those grains and crops on lack of government interventions in agricultural sector both at the state and federal government levels, and also lengthy dry spells during the wet season.

The chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria ( AFAN) in the state, Hon. Umar Aboki said that agricultural practice is mainly rain- fed in the country.

He said other factors that affected their productivity level are increased prices of agricultulral products that reduced the purchasing power of peasant farmers, insecurity, farmers/ herders clash, inadequate supply of farm implements and mechanisation; lack of drought resistant seeds with short maturity date and high quality yields as well as inadequate storage facilities.


Drastic  Decrease Of Crop Production In Benue

In Benue State the level of production of crops like rice beans, millet, maize, cassava, groundnuts, yam and guinea corn from 2022 to date has decreased due to the sustained herdsmen attacks on the farming communities, flood and local bandits attacks.

The State Chariman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Benue State chapter Aondongu Saaku, said aside the attacks and displacement of farmers, untimely distribution of farming inputs like fertilizer, herbicides among others to farmers is another major issue.

Farmers in Plateau state are also groaning as a result of insecurity and hike in the prices of fertilizers, herbicides, labor and other farm impliments in the state.

As a result of December 24 2023 coordinated attacks in Mangu, Bokkos and several local government areas where maize and Irish potato is cultivated in large quantities, most of the farmers are still squatting in IDPs camps as a result of the destruction of their ancestral homes.The development will affect food production in the state this year.

Speaking to our correspondent in Jos, two farmers Yohana Amos and Isah Mohammed lamented that insecurity and lack of fertilizers and other farm impliments is their biggest problem.


Oil Spills In Bayelsa

Oil spill has been one of the major challenges affecting farming particularly rice production in Bayelsa State. Most of the time, farm lands located within oil producing communities where rice is cultivated are submerged by oil spillages and they affect the production in those areas, said Mr. Inatimi Peter Odio, a rice farmer in Akassa community in Brass local government area of Bayelsa State.

Odio who is the executive director, Fostering Achievement of Community Empowerment Initiative (FACE Initiative), told LEADERSHIP Weekend that the oil spill issue has been under control lately by the security operatives with help of the Tantita force, adding that as at the time they cultivated in 2022, oil spill was one of the major challenges they had that reduced rice production.

In Niger state the production of crops like yam and maize has reduced because areas that used to farm the crops are currently ravaged by banditry.

Shiroro, Munya, Rafi, Mariga, Rijau and parts of Paikoro local government areas where such crops are grown have been under bandits’ attack and the people have abandoned the farm for Internally Displaced Persons IDPs camps in the state.

The situation may not change in this farming season especially as bandits attacks have increased unabated in recent weeks with many villagers  abandoning their communities to stay sin IDPs camp.


Two Unprofitable Seasons In Osun

Despite lingering challenge of attack on farmlands by cattle and thieves, farming activities have commenced in earnest following the arrival of rain across Osun State.

It was gathered that farming activities was at its lowest ebb across the state last two farming season consequent upon alleged attacks on farmlands by cattle and pilfering natives.

A maize farmer in Awo, Egbedore local government of the state Lukman Adebisi said despite the existence of law against open grazing in Osun, nothing was done to check the activities of nomads.

Farmers across many areas in Abia State are also of the opinion that there has been steady decrease in their production level since 2022.

They listed the factors to include use of old methods and obsolete implements, low labour supply, aging population, inadequate supply of improved seeds, and high cost of inputs.

Others, they say, are lack governments’ encouragement, storage facilities, road infrastructure, facilities from financial institutions, land tenure system, thieves, pest control, and herdsmen menace.

Despite the present food scarcity and rising costs in the country, the production level of food crops is said to have dropped since around June 2022.

The crops according to a farmer in Ekiti state, Mr Olajide Olagunju include, maize, cassava, yam among others.

Olagunju noted that Nigeria had been leading globally in the production of the food crops between 2018 and 2021 but derailed by 2022 due to some factors beyond the control of the farmers.

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A yam farmer, Mr Adelodun Ojo who said the diseases in both field and storage constitute major constraint in the  production of the crop.

According to Ojo, “Pests, in particular yam beetles, bore holes in the tubers to reduce their quality  and accompanied with fungal infection causing rot of the tubers” .

He said efforts are being made to get loans from banks for the procurement of farm inputs, more support from government in the area of fertilizer, and machineries to make farming attractive to more people to produce the in large scale.

Mr Oluwole, who grows cassava and maize said he has started preparing for the current planting season since over a month ago with clearing of farmlands, making ridges and heaps and planting.

He said the major challenge the farmers in the state are facing is lack rain.

“Crops have been planted over a month ago, some of them germinate and a lot didn’t germinate due to lack of rain. The seedlings dried up in the soil. Now that it has started raining, we have to replan the seeds and pray to God for more rain for them to survive after germination”.

Other factors listed as  constraints to the crops production are, lack of access to improved varieties and good quality seed, limited access to often expensive fertilisers and pesticides, poor dissemination of good agricultural practice, the need for affordable, small-scale mechanisation to replace manual labour and significant post-harvest losses due to lack of storage facilities.

In the last two years, the level of production of rice, beans, millet, maize, cassava, groundnut, yams and guinea corn, has drastically reduced in Sokoto state.


This is no thanks to issues of incessant insecurities particularly, in the food production areas (northern flank), of the state.




For years now, the food basket areas of Sokoto state, are bedevilled with banditry attacks, kidnappings, and cattle rustling.


Some Kaduna farmers have identified insecurity and lack of funds to increase maize, millet production for consumption and commercial.


Speaking with LEADERSHIP Weekend in Kaduna, a maize farmer, Gideon Cyprian, said bandits terrorising communities have affected farming activities:”In 2022, I harvested eight bags of maize but last year, I harvested five bags. I am residing in Kaduna city but I used to go to surrounding communities to pay the locals for a portion of land to farm. For sometime now, many of us farming maize are no longer going to these remote villages to farm again because of bandits. Bandits kidnapped many farmers and collected ransoms before their release.



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