2020 Agricultural Performance Results: Is Nigeria Food Secured? IV
The result of the Agricultural Performance Survey presented in the last three parts of this article dwelled on the performance of 2020 wet season crops. It brought out the slight food gap created by the likely decrease in the yields of some stable crops due to dry spells in some places, flood in a few states, and inadequacy of inputs, particularly organic fertilizer and improved seeds. Last week’s piece centered on how to address the expected food gap, which can be done through massive engagements of farmers to commence dry season farming. The flood occurrences in some states provide the perfect opportunity to harness the underground water for irrigated agriculture. What is the performance of livestock and fisheries in the country?
The report brought out a disturbing situation on livestock production in the country. This has been a major area of serious concern in Nigeria over the years. Generally, there has been consistent negligence in agricultural investment in Nigeria by governments at all levels (especially LGA and States) as well as private sectors. Every year, there has been a budget allocation of less than 5% of the annual budget of government at both states and Federal to agriculture. Over 70% of this low investment in agriculture goes to crop production at the expense of livestock production. To really comprehend this dismal picture, one can refer to my previous article titled “Sudanese National Agricultural Summit and Lessons for Nigeria” published in this Column and can be accessed via www.breakthroughwithmkohman.blogspot.com. In that article, I compared the cattle population of Sudan and Nigeria. I stated “The national herd is estimated around 140 million heads of cattle (http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article58991). When one compares the 2018 population of 19 million herds of cattle in Nigeria with that of 140 million in Sudan, then one can appreciate the level of progress made in Sudan. This means there are 7 cows to every two persons in Sudan compared to one cow to ten people in Nigeria”. This situation has not significantly changed in 2020 as presented by APS Report.
In 2020, the population of cows was reported as 20,585,000 herds, which is a 0.2% increase over the 2019 population of 20,407,000 herds. With the country’s population of over 200 million people, this means that there is one cow to about 10 people in Nigeria, which is grossly inadequate in the country. The population of sheep was reported as 47,926,000 herds, while goat’s population was estimated as 84,039,000 and chicken population as 223,704,000. These 2020 figures have slight increases of 0.3%, 0.2%, and 0.1% for sheep, goats, and chicken, respectively over their values in 2019. The marginal increases recorded were in spite of widespread livestock pests and diseases experienced in several areas across the country. Some of the reported diseases were Bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP), Helminthiasis, Peste des Petits ruminants (PPR), Fasciola, Mange, and Foot Rot. In supports to livestock farming, eight States and FCT reported distributing animal feed, supplements, disinfectants, insecticides, vaccines for CBPP and PPR; day old-chicks, turkey poults, and weaner goats.
On fisheries production, there was a paucity of data characterized artisanal fisheries across the nation. Data obtained from few states indicated decreases in fisheries production compared to 2019.
In addition to the performance of crops and livestock production, the APS reported the major constraints against Agricultural productions in the 2020 wet season. The survey assessed the impact of Coronavirus Pandemic on Agricultural Production. The survey indicated that 99.7% of farmers were found to be fully aware of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Pandemic disrupted food production systems threatened farmers’ livelihoods and national food and nutrition security.
It adversely affected livestock and fisheries production. In many places, there were difficulties in reaching out to consumers, which led to the volatility of prices. However, health and safety measures implemented reduced labour mobility along the supply chain with dire consequences on production. Thus, Covid-19 Pandemic led to a rise in the prices of inputs averagely by over 90% and a shortage of farm labour by 67%, among others. One other constraint to agricultural production is the ineffectiveness of agricultural extension services. The extension activities continued to decline over the years due to poor funding and the dearth of extension personnel across the states with the ratio of extension agents to many farmers reaching as much as 1:20,000 in some states. This is practically impossible to serve the large farming population.
Other constraints are conflict, banditry, and kidnapping. Although, there was a decline in
Herder-farmer conflicts since 2017, though there is a slight upsurge from 2019 to date.
Insurgency/banditry, cattle rustling, kidnapping, and banditry have all been on the increase with serious consequences on agricultural production activities.
The APS report is a 325-page document containing presented the true picture of agriculture in Nigeria. It is a ‘must-read’ for our policymakers as it has provided the latest baseline information and status of food security in Nigeria. We need to wake up and transform our agricultural potential into tangible reality to achieve food security sooner than later.