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Showing posts with label Drought. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Drought. Show all posts

Monday, December 3, 2018

Farmers grappling with drought, urgently need seed - NaijaAgroNet

A new drought response plan will help estimated 1.4 million of the most vulnerable drought-affected people in Afghanistan during the coming winter season and into April next year, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) announced today on the sidelines of the Geneva Conference on Afghanistan, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Around 10.6 million people, or close to half of the country’s rural population, are severely food insecure. This level of hunger has many causes, including years of civil unrest, but it has been made worse by a damaging drought triggered by low snowfall last winter followed by rainfall of up to 70 per cent less than normal in some places. Many families have resorted to desperate coping measures including skipping meals, selling off their livestock or moving to makeshift displacement camps.

FAO is working with partner organizations to provide vulnerable farmers in 22 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces – particularly households headed by women or people with disabilities – with urgently-needed wheat seeds and fertilizers in time for the winter planting season, when much-needed rains are forecast to finally arrive.

Livestock protection measures, including concentrated livestock feed, fodder crop seed, and animal health services are also being provided. Livestock are a key source of food and livelihoods for the majority of rural Afghans; keeping livestock healthy through the harsh winter is therefore essential for rural food security, preserves breeding stocks and sustains rural livelihoods for the coming years.

FAO’s drought response plan is also intended to help people stay at their places of origin and reduce drought-induced displacements.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Agro-experts outline how to survive drought _ NaijaAgroNet

Although preventing or mitigating drought impacts could be cheaper than providing drought relief, this does not necessarily translate into action through planning, budget allocations and changes in the institutions' behavior, says the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), reports NaijaAgroNet.

In the latest United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report available to NaijaAgroNet, experts at FAO outlined how to survive drought.

As said by them, providing emergency food assistance, access to water, fodder, and creating jobs are the most common approaches adopted by most governments when supporting drought-stricken populations.

They noted that while these are essential to saving lives and alleviate hunger, these also have several limitations as the above approaches do not help vulnerable populations become more resilient to future shocks.

NaijaAgroNet gathered that many countries do not have a structure dedicated to drought and drought action plans, stressing that coordination at the highest levels of governments when planning for droughts also need reinforcing.

“Current agricultural policies are rendering land more degraded and impoverished, and need to be re-examined to mitigate the impacts of drought,” they posited.

NaijaAgroNet noted that the report had argued that developing and implementing national drought management policies should be consistent with the country's development objectives as well as establishing early warning systems are essential.

It recommends disseminating technologies to combat drought, and support policies and incentives to use land and water resources rationally.

Growing drought-tolerant, fast maturing and watershed crops, and encouraging advanced methods of irrigation (including drip and spray irrigation) are some of the measures that should be adopted at larger scale to combat climate change.

Setting parcels of land apart to grow trees or small trees in agricultural fields and pastures to ensure their growth is a practice that can generate multiple-use trees to mitigate impacts of droughts.

Traditional livestock herding practices including keeping stocking rates low and moving herds when forage is low, capable of reducing risk of overgrazing and land degradation.

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Monday, June 18, 2018

Experts stress impacts of drought in Africa region - NaijaAgroNet

The experts at the Foodand Agriculture Organisation (FAO) have given some insights into the impacts of drought for African continent and mostly the North East and North Africa, reports NaijaAgroNet.

According to them, agriculture is the first and worst hit sector when drought strikes, stressing that due to the impacts of drought, domestic food production has declined in the past four decades and rural populations' income dropped.

They noted that though oil supports a number of economies, agriculture is still an important part of the region's Gross Domestic Products (GDP) and essential for populations' food security.

Droughts are costly and can severely compromise the agricultural sectors,” they declared in a latest report made available to NaijaAgroNet, and endorsed by the FAO's Assistant Director-General, Climate, Biodiversity, Land and Water Department, Mr. Rene Castro.

Further, NaijaAgroNet gathered that the latest drought in Northern Africa, which was in 2015-2016, affected all countries and caused a significant drop in cereal production in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

As recently as the 1980s, 70 per cent of Mauritanians were nomads and subsistence farmers. In
the past three decades, recurrent droughts have forced many to move to cities where they suffer
due to high unemployment and a severe lack of social services,” they noted.

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Pix: FAO's Assistant Director-General, Climate, Biodiversity, Land and Water Department, Mr. Rene Castro

Friday, June 15, 2018

UN Report demands proactive shift in drought management - NaijaAgroNet


The latest United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has called for a fundamental shift in the way drought is perceived and managed in the Near East and North Africa region, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The agency said in a new report issued today that a more pro-active approach based on the principles of risk reduction is needed to build greater resilience to droughts.

Even though drought is a familiar phenomenon in the region, over the past four decades, droughts have become more widespread, prolonged and frequent - likely due to climate change.

The region is not only highly prone to drought, but also one of the world's most water-scarce areas, with desert making up three quarters of its territory.

The FAO's Assistant Director-General, Climate, Biodiversity, Land and Water Department, Rene Castro, was quoted as saying that the Near East and North Africa's technical, administrative, and financial capacities to deal with drought are inadequate, rendering farmers and herders - the first and worst hit when drought strikes - even more vulnerable.

Farmers and herders, UN reported, face mounting challenges as water becomes scarcer, land more degraded and eroded, and soils more fragile.

It lamented that there is still too much focus on recovering from drought rather than being less susceptible to it, with insufficient funding, preparedness, and coordination remaining significant constraints, warns the report.

"We need to perceive and manage droughts differently, and shift from emergency response to more pro-active policy and long-term planning to reduce risks and build greater resilience," Castro said, pointing out that "The report assesses gaps in current drought management and provides a solid base to help governments rethink policies and reformulate preparedness and response plans by offering solutions that take into account each country's specific context."



It covers 20 countries in the region - Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE, and Yemen.

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Drought-stricken herders in Ethiopia need urgent support

Supporting herders to get back on their feet and preventing further livestock losses and suffering are crucial in drought-hit Ethiopia where hunger has been on the rise this year, warned today the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), reports NaijaAgroNet.

Drought has devastated herders’ livelihoods as it exhausted pastures and water sources, leading to a significant number of animals dying or falling ill, particularly in the southern and southeastern regions of the country as other areas recover from previous seasons’ El Niño-induced drought.

Drought-hit pastoralists face reduced milk production, rising malnutrition, and have limited income-earning capacity and severely constrained access to food.

Some 8.5 million people – one in 12 people – are now suffering from hunger; of these, 3.3 million people live in Somali Region.

The current food and nutrition crisis is significantly aggravated by the severe blow to pastoral livelihoods. For livestock-dependent families, the animals can literally mean the difference between life and death, especially for children, pregnant and nursing women for whom milk is a crucial source of nutrition.

With up to 2 million animals lost so far, FAO is focusing on providing emergency livestock support to the most vulnerable pastoralist communities through animal vaccination and treatment, supplementary feed and water, rehabilitating water points, and supporting fodder and feed production.

“It is crucial to provide this support between now and October – when rains are due – to begin the recovery process and prevent further losses of animals. If we don’t act now, hunger and malnutrition will only get worse among pastoral communities,” said Abdoul Karim Bah, FAO Deputy Representative in Ethiopia.

By providing supplementary feed and water for livestock, while at the  same time supporting fodder production, FAO seeks to protect core breeding animals and enable drought-hit families to rebuild their livelihoods. Animal health campaigns will be reinforced to protect animals, particularly before the rains set in, when they are at their weakest and more susceptible to parasites or infectious diseases. FAO-supported destocking and cash-for-work programmes will also provide a crucial source of cash for families.

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Extreme drought hits Sri Lanka

Extreme drought has reported hit Sri Lanka following heavy rainfalls with large swaths of cropping areas, threatening the food security of some 900,000 people, NaijaAgroNet reports.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), while confirming this to NaijaAgroNet, saying that the joint Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission, showed that drought conditions in 2016 and early 2017 led to widespread crop failures, in particular for rice paddy - the country's staple food.

This NaijaAgroNet reported has resulted in a Total paddy production in 2017 worth forecast at 2.7 million tonnes, almost 40 per cent less than the last year's output and 35 percent lower than the average of the previous five years.

Other crops, including various pulses, chillies and onion, which rely mainly on rainwater, were also heavily damaged by the dry weather.

The situation was exacerbated by subsequent heavy rainfalls in May. Floods and landslides in the south-western parts of the country caused deaths, large population displacements and damage to infrastructure. The rains did not ease the water supply constraints in the drought-impacted north-central and eastern parts of the country.

Now, nearly 225,000 households (or about 900,000 people) face food insecurity. The most vulnerable groups are struggling to earn an income after losing their own crops and have fewer employment opportunities. In ten districts, a previous joint assessment showed that about one third of the drought-affected population had its regular income reduced by more than half, compared to the income generated from the 2015-2016 Maha season.

The situation may further deteriorate if the next cropping season fails. Due to a critical shortage of seeds and a lack of water for irrigation, the second 2017 paddy harvest - known as Yala, due to be harvested in August and September - is forecast at 1.2 million tonnes, 24 percent below last year's level.


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Friday, February 17, 2017

Drought, a recurring phenomenon

Drought and water scarcity have become recurring problems in Bolivia over the past decade, but the situation has been particularly alarming since 2015.

Due to its geography and terrain, the impacts of climate change in Bolivia are manifesting in the form of hotter and more frequent dry periods, rainy seasons that are shorter but more intense, and an increase in the occurrence of hailstorms and freezes. Degradation of natural resources exacerbates the impacts these climate-related changes are having.

According to FAO, to cope with the impacts of climate changes on agriculture and food security countries must make organizational and technological changes to water management that correspond to the needs of small farmers. Restoring local water cycles is particularly important area for action that is essential to ensuring that communities have access to adequate water resources.

The Green Climate fund is an international funding mechanism established at the 2010 UN Climate Conference that aims to support developing country efforts to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Countries can receive stand-alone grants for simpler projects like well or cistern construction, or loans for more complex projects like the large-scale irrigation systems, either directly from the fund or via accredited implementing agencies, such as FAO.

In the case of the Bolivia proposal, the funding would be challenged directly to that country’s national “Mi Riego” (My Irrigation) program.

The proposal is being developed by a working group comprised of FAO experts and officials from Bolivia’s Ministers for Development Planning and Environment and Water. The group was convened following President Morales request for FAO assistance made at the recently held summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.

One of FAO’s key roles is to assist countries in their efforts to respond to climate change by providing technical assistance, information and data, and other tools to strengthen their adaptive capacities.

For many countries, acquiring the capacity to access and use international financing mechanism represents a critical first step towards greater resilience to climate change.

Courtesy: FAO


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Friday, December 30, 2016

Drought: Somalia, Kenya benefits from FAO's Early Warning fund

The two countries of Somalia and Kenya are among the first countries to benefit from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO's) new Early Warning Early Action Fund (EWEA), reports NaijaAgroNet.

The fund, NaijaAgroNet gathered, ensures quick activation of emergency plans when there is a high likelihood of a disaster that would affect agriculture and people's food and nutrition security.

Also, NaijaAgroNet reports that the fund will be part of a larger Early Warning Early Action System that tracks climate data and earth imaging to determine what areas are at risk of an imminent shock and will benefit from early intervention.

Although at the time of filing this report, FAO has not disclosed how much the benefits to the two countries are worth.


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Monday, February 15, 2016

Saving Africa from El Nino drought

The effects of El Nino cannot be over-emphasised. REMMY NWEKE writes that Africa must be proactive in managing the situation.
Introduction:
A new concern may be worrying experts in the agriculture industry in the name of El Nino drought, especially in Ethiopia, otherwise known as horn of Africa. For many observers in the development world, this is coming at a time the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been invigorated.
What is El Nino

El Nino is an irregularly occurring and complex series of climatic changes affecting the equatorial Pacific region and beyond every few years, characterized by the appearance of unusually warm, nutrient-poor water off northern Peru and Ecuador, typically in late December.

But investigations revealed that el Nino has since gone beyond the northern Peru and Ecuador to other part of the world including the United States as Southern California was reported recently to have a high-pressure mass in order to keep brunt of El Nino away.

During an El Nino, the physical relationships between wind, ocean currents, temperature, and biosphere break down into destructive patterns, says Dr. John Kermond, the Communications Director for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The United States-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) through its earth observatory department sees El Nino as a climate change that  occurs every three to seven years during the months of December and January, culminating in fish in the coastal waters off of these countries virtually vanishing and causing the fishing business to come to a standstill.

South American fishermen, according to David Herring, one of the earth observatory experts, have given this phenomenon the name El Niño, which is Spanish for "the Boy Child," because it comes about the time of the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child. He explained that during an El Niño, the physical relationships between wind, ocean currents, oceanic and atmospheric temperature, and biosphere break down into destructive patterns that are second only to the march of the seasons in their impacts to weather conditions around the world.

Cushioning El Nino in Africa:
It was this concern that got the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) worried by the amount of drought witnessed at the end of 2015 and cross over to 2016; voted the sum of $50m for emergency in the drought-ridden Ethiopia, although this drought is not limited in Ethiopia alone, just as the droughts were attributed to the strongest El Niño weather episode in the last several decades, which has caused repeated crop failure, decimated livestock herds and driven some 10.2 million people across Ethiopia into food insecurity.

FAO also disclosed in its emergency response plan to urgently protect livestock and rebuild crop production in the Horn of Africa nation. According to the FAO Representative for Ethiopia, Mr. Amadou Allahoury, the outlook for 2016 is very grim, stressing that after two consecutive seasons of failed crops, the success of the main cropping season that starts now will be critical to preventing conditions from worsening.

The continued drought throughout the beginning of 2016, he said means pasture will become even more scarce which will negatively impact livestock keepers that rely on those grazing lands and water points for their food security. Asserting that overall, food will become harder to access if the drought continues and prices rise, food stocks deplete and livestock become weaker, less productive, and perish.

The El Niño phenomenon is associated with the abnormal warming of sea surface temperature in parts of the Pacific Ocean that has severe effects on global weather and climate patterns - leading to reduced rainfall and drought in some regions and heavy rains and flooding in others. Under the current El Niño, crop production in Ethiopia has dropped by 50 to 90 per cent in some regions and failed completely in the east. The drought resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of livestock.

El Nino in Africa:
Of course, the African continent is not immune to El Niño as it has lowered crop prospects in southern Africa countries and many countries in the region are taking measures. South Africa has already declared drought status for five provinces, its main cereal producing regions, while Lesotho has issued a drought mitigation plan and Swaziland has implemented water restrictions as reservoir levels have become low.

FAO, thus is implementing response plans in 20 high-priority countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the South Pacific, including Ethiopia.  Another 21 countries are being monitored closely.

What the emergency plan portends:
NaijaAgroNet gathered that FAO in its emergency response plan made budget for an estimated to 360,000 households, that is some 1.8 million people, as some households to receive assistance under more than one activity.In addition, FAO says there is plan to reduce the food gap and enhance nutrition through support to agricultural production through emergency seed distribution to affected areas for the meher season, quality drought resilient seed production at community level, reduce risk of malnutrition through backyard vegetable production initiatives.

FAO equally plans to offer rapid response for irrigated food production at household level, safeguard livestock-based livelihoods, provision of cash to destock already weak animal through slaughter, protection of core breeding animals through survival feed provision, voucher-based supplementary feed support, increase fodder production at community level, support to animal health interventions and vector control, restore livelihoods through restocking with small ruminants, enhance resilience of households’ affected by El Niño.

Whereas they intend to work towards adoption of the approach for better mitigation of future crises, cash-for-work initiatives to improve critical infrastructure for water access, coordination for efficient and effective response, and coordination of overall response.

According to the FAO latest assessments, access to pasture and water will continue to deteriorate until the start of the next rainy season in March. As a result, experts anticipate that livestock will become leaner, sicker and produce less milk and many more will die.

Crop reserves are severely depleted, leaving farmers vulnerable without means of production for the upcoming planting season that starts in January -- in many cases, farmers lost valuable seeds through recurrent crop failures, planting time and time again in the hopes of rains that never came.
As a result, malnutrition rates have soared and the number of admissions for severe acute malnutrition among children is now the highest ever reported.

Response plan
The new FAO response plan aims to assist 1.8 million farmers and livestock keepers in 2016 to reduce food gaps and restore agricultural production and incomes.

The first critical phase of the $50 million will focus on the meher season between January and June.
FAO plans to help 131 500 households plant with a focus on the meher season. This intervention will include a mix of emergency seed distribution, small-scale irrigation projects, and backyard gardening initiatives targeted at empowering women's groups with tools, knowledge and access to micro loans.

As the current drought has not only affected smallholder farmers but also seed producers, it has aggravated already existing seed shortages across the country and made it even harder for farmers to plant. For this reason, FAO is also supporting 10 000 seed producers to produce high-quality seeds and get the local market for seeds back on its feet.

Another 293 000 households will benefit from livestock interventions, such as the distribution of emergency animal feed, vaccination drives to protect some 3 million animals against disease, and restocking of 100 000 goats and sheep to vulnerable households.

As many animals have been severely weakened by lack of food and water, FAO will also implement a cash-for-livestock exchange that will reimburse farmers for bringing unproductive livestock to slaughter and support community feed production.

A third leg of the response plan will focus on strengthening livelihoods of more than 30 000 households and build their resilience to future shocks. This will include cash-for-work programs that will boost families' incomes and improve critical local infrastructure and water access for livestock. This part of the plan will also target farmers' and women's groups through integrated community projects that support community savings-and-loan schemes, farmer field schools and other methods to help families accumulate and diversify assets.

Rebuilding now
By focusing specifically on rebuilding the productive capacity of farming and pastoralist families, FAO is supporting ongoing efforts by the Government of Ethiopia, other UN agencies and NGO partners that are tending to the immediate needs of at-risk families.
"In Ethiopia, El Niño is not just a food crisis -- it's above all a livelihood crisis. And we need to intervene now to protect and rebuild these livelihoods and people's capacity to produce, to prevent families from becoming long-term dependent on food aid," said Dominique Burgeon, Leader of FAO's Strategic Programme on Resilience and Director of FAO's Emergencies and Rehabilitation Division.
FAO's appeal for $50 million to protect Ethiopian livelihoods comes at a time when international donor funds are stretched thin in light of a multitude of major human-induced crises.
But intervention to secure farming livelihoods now is the best way to help the country bounce back and prevent a further slide into chronic food insecurity, according to Burgeon.
"If response is delayed, recovery will be difficult and the cost of interventions will only increase," he stressed.

Between FAO and El Niño

Agriculture is one of the main sectors of the economy that could be severely affected by the El Niño phenomenon. While drought is the main threat to food production, El Niño can also cause heavy rains, flooding or extremely hot or cold weather. This can lead to animal disease outbreaks, including zoonosis and food-borne diseases, as well as plant pests and forest fires.
Previously El Niño events have been lined up to create more awareness and share knowledge, therefore, people whose livelihoods depend on fisheries have been heavily affected in certain areas.
With climatologists predicting that the 2015-16 El Niño event could become one of the strongest on record, FAO is moving forward with specific plans for early interventions under its Early Warning - Early Action System. 
As at the time of filing this report, 14 countries on the continent of Africa, the South Pacific, Asia and Central America are being specifically targeted due to their increased risk to extreme weather and a subsequent negative effect on vulnerable people. Another 19 countries are classified as facing moderate risk, of, which their future status will be proclaimed by FAO.
Whilst waiting for the future of Africa and El Nino, the continent has to take cautionary steps to ensure, first of all that El Nino does not expand beyond its current state in order to be contained in and within the proposed FAO lifeline in this regard, in which line the African Union (AU) via its CAADP initiative.


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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Africa needs GMO tools to overcome weeds, pests, drought



Genetic Literacy Project, a Science trumps ideology group, has said that what Africa needs are genetically modified organism (GMO) tools to overcome weeds, pests and drought, NaijaAgroNet reports.

“One major problem is that we don’t benefit from the latest technologies. From Africa, we look at North and South America farmers with envy, wishing we could use the same genetically modified organism (GMO) tools to overcome weeds, pests and drought they have access to.

“We don’t need handouts from wealthy countries. We just need the same opportunities to succeed. Africa’s current drought has not yet touched Ghana, but it stretches the full length of our continent. The United Nations predicts that more people in Ethiopia will need food assistance next year than in war-torn Syria”, NaijaAgroNet gathered.

The continent of Africa is suffering its worst drought in a generation. The failure of the African skies to pour nourishing rain onto the soil could cost millions of people their lives.

Drought can affect farmers anywhere. The drought in California has devastated farmers in an area world famous for its agricultural productivity. The United States, however, is a developed nation — the drought has caused hardship but nobody expects it to lead to large-scale malnutrition and starvation.

NaijaAgroNet reports that things are different in Africa, with no simple solutions to its agricultural dilemmas. Farmers  lack access to credit, land and labour. Many suffer from illiteracy, poor management skills and bad or nonexistent infrastructure. The delivery of extension services is skewed. And although agriculture is essential, it’s held in low regard.

Cyriacus Nnaji/ED,OPs
 
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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

WFP predicts food shortage in South Africa

 NaijaAgroNet

The World Food Programme (WFP) has predicted an acute food shortage in South Africa in a couple of months due to a severe drought in the 'maize belt' of South Africa, where a lack of rain had caused crop failure rates of over 50 per cent, NaijaAgroNet reports.

WFP’s Food and Nutrition Security Working Group’s April assessment states, "The rains experienced in late March and early April provided some relief to livestock farmers but arrived too late for both staple food and cash crops."

Last month's outbreak of anti-foreigner riots in South Africa, in which at least seven were killed and thousands more forced to flee, NaijaAgroNet gathered,  might also lead to a drop in remittance flows from Africa's most advanced economy, adding to the problems of nearby countries, the WFP said.

The WFP said maize production was estimated to have dropped by a third compared with last year, putting it on track for a harvest of 9.665 million tonnes, its worst in eight years,  

Besides South Africa, which produces more than 40 per cent of regional maize, NaijaAgroNet learnt, the drought was also likely to hit harvests in southern Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Malawi and Madagascar, the U.N. agency said in a report.

The problems in landlocked and impoverished Malawi were compounded by heavy rains and flooding in early January which destroyed crops and roads, it added.

.Cyriacus Nnaji/ GEE
 
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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Global food price index down by 1% in October

Traders at the Oshodi Market, Lagos

The October Food Price Index by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation recorded a two-point drop, a one per cent drop from September.
The price index for October was at 213 points against 215 points of the previous month.
The Food Price Index made available to NaijaAgroNet showed that the decline is characterised by the reduction in international prices and freight rates, lower cereal purchases which has the capability to push down the world food import bill of the year.
Commenting on the latest price index, FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva noted that a set of conditions and measures were put in place to stop international food price from spiraling up as it did in 2007-2008 and 2009-2010.
One of the important measures, da Silva said is the improved international coordination and market transparency by the G20's Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) which assisted in preventing panic and putting a stop to the worst drought in decades, which is already leading to a food price crises.
"Droughts or floods are not what cause crises, its lack of governance," the FAO boss said, adding that there is a need to strengthen the global governance of food security.
NaijaAgroNet further gathered that the first 10 months of the year experienced food prices on average of 8 per cent lower than the same period in 2011, and food forecast for 2012 was $1.14 trillion, about N179 trillion.


Yinka Awosanya/ED
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Friday, August 10, 2012

Food Price Hike: Effects of importation on Africa


World Food Laureate, Dr. Monty Jones
There have been changing fortunes on food price hikes on the continent. YINKA AWOSANYA examines the effects despite claims that Africa’s major occupation is agriculture.
Introduction:
In Africa, the record is still high when it comes to cost of food importation despite having a higher percentage of the population claiming to be practising agriculture. As such both local and international institutions as well as African governments have been lamenting the effect on the continent’s economic standing, especially long run.
For instance, the global food import bill for the year 2012 was projected to decline to $1.24 trillion, a 3.87 per cent less 2011 record of $1.29; the feasibility of the prediction lies in the increase to be recorded in food productivity in individual countries.
Traceable Facts:
This is traceable to the fact that the youths are not showing enough interest in taking up agriculture due to its unattractive status thereby leaving food production at the mercy of the aged as well as those living in the rural areas to cater for the food needs of all, both those in the urban and rural dwellers.
World Food Laureate, Monty Jones once raised an alarm that crop production in Africa is lagging behind the rest of the world with a very wide gap. This, he said, contributed greatly to the rate of food importation as little produce is not enough to cater for the ever growing population. Noting though that some African countries still export farm produces, but the rate of exportation is insignificant compared to importation.
NaijaAgroNet gathered that one of the stable food exporting countries in Africa, Kenya still imports maize to boost stocks of foods despite recording a big harvest which followed good rains in the last season. The maize imports for Kenya last season stood at 1.05 million 90-kg bags, both from regional and international markets in a bid to supplement food supplies.
Nigeria is not exempted from the food importing countries of the continent despite being the largest producer of cassava in the world, even though most of the cassava produce come from subsistence farmers. For instance, in 2011 alone, Nigeria recorded about N1.59 trillion in the importation of wheat, rice, sugar and fish only.
To curtail the rate of importation, Nigerian president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan recently revealed an increase in tariff on wheat in a bid to encourage the use of cassava flour in the production of bread which will lead to a drastic reduction in wheat importation.
He also said that Nigeria, in 2012 alone will be making an export of a million metric tonnes of dried cassava chips to China which will work in favour of the economy as the export would earn the nation the sum of $136, about N21.7 billion in foreign exchange.
Factors:
The increase in global food prices in the past few months could be attributed to poor weather conditions leading to low productivity as well as drought and social insecurity.
Various food prices index, especially the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO’s) recent food price index which showed that agricultural commodities from November 2011 to April 2012 indicated an upward movement of food prices globally.
With foods like cereals, sugar, dairy products and meat leading the global food index with high prices, the overall price index rose by two per cent, 7 per cent lower than that of January 2011.
Nigeria records downward trend:
Although maize in Nigeria recorded a downward trend in January 2012; selling 100kg for N5,500 equivalent of $34.08 as against N6,500 in December 2011, the latest peak then. While the global maize price has the highest rate of increase with six per cent, wheat also recorded an increase but less significant despite the improved weather conditions in favour of the crop.
The global food prices could be attributed to poor weather condition affecting crops in major food producing regions of the world and the rate of mechanised or commercial farming compared to subsistence farming as the produce from subsistence farming is not enough to feed the ever growing world population.
Drought and insecurity:
Recent droughts that affected some parts of the world, especially Eastern and Sub-Saharan Africa, hinder global food security as food situation of vulnerable groups of people remained precarious.
The global price of Wheat, for instance, may not witness a sharp reduction in 2012 as its production is expected to drop to 675 million tones, a 3.6 per cent decline; another influence that may also contribute to this is the price of maize.
Due to the critical growing months ahead, crops that might have witnessed a drop in May 2012 may still remain high and vulnerable. Just as the cereal price towards the end of the year might reduce as the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) predicted an increase in cereal production, which is anticipated to reach 2.371billion tones, thereby creating a new cereal production record.
Other agriculture produce to witness an increased production capable of leading to a reduction in their market prices or at least maintain a stable price includes milk with a forecast of 750m tones, a 2.7 per cent growth with the expectations that Asia will account for most of the productions.
While the wholesale price of local maize in Kano State in Nigeria, recorded an increase in February 2012 to N6,300, a 14.5 per cent rise over the January’s price, it dropped again in March to N6,200 and N6,800 in April, just N300 down its peak in seven years; February 2005 it was at N7,100.
Conclusion:
Although Nigerians would have expected a very sharp increase in food price in the country and never to drop from its January 2012 price due to the increase in pump price of petrol with about 50.76 per cent in January as well as the case of insecurity in the northern part of the country.
Yet, food prices did increase but not all food commodities correlate with the 50 per cent rise in fuel pump price, because some commodities did not witness an increase while others get about 20 to 100 per cent rise in prices.



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Friday, July 27, 2012

Somalia may slide back to food insecurity – FAO warns


Irrigated crops make Somali farmers more resilient.
Head of operations at the Food and Agricultural Organization (FOA) in Somalia, Luca Alinovi has sounded a warning that the country may slide back into food crisis, if present initiative towards food security is disengaged.
“By designing and executing a build-back-better process,” Luca said affected Somalia communities had get back on their feet in months but the danger is that the initiatives should be sustained in order to ensure full recovery from drought.
The eastern Africa republic is still at the verge of drought as the situations remains critical, hence, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization affirmed that continued aid is vital.
NaijaAgroNet recalls that the United Nations made a declaration last year July about the state of famine in Somalia which caused thousands of deaths and call for a massive humanitarian aid programme in a bid to preserve food security in the affected areas.
One of FAO’s latest forecasts also warns of reduced rains in the year which will lead to a below-average to poor harvest in some parts of the south which include the major sorghum-producing region, and deterioration of food security situation.
Aid strategy by the UN agency was designed to help farmers and herders to build long-term resilience to drought and other emergencies in regions plagued by recurrent droughts.
Yinka Awosanya/LS
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