ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Abubakar Salisu was terrified when he discovered barren sand in the middle of his farmland, rendering a wide swath unsuitable for growing crops. Now, extreme heat you are killing your wheat before it is ready for cultivation.
Wheat normally requires heat, but in the past three years, farmers in Nigeria’s far north, part of Africa’s Sahel region that largely produces the country’s homegrown food, have seen an “alarming” rise in hot weather, much more than necessary, said Salisu, a local wheat farmer leader in Kaita, Katsina state. In addition, the rain is irregular.
“The unpredictable rain pattern is affecting us because wheat is planted right after the rainy season, but sometimes we plant it thinking the rain has stopped, only to have it start again, thus spoiling the seeds,” Salisu said, 48 years old.
He vicious heat and the rainy cycle, exacerbated by climate change, has contributed to halving their wheat yields.
You are not alone: others in the violence-torn northern areas suffer even more. Conflict and climate change are causing a food security crisis in Nigeria, exacerbated by supply interruptions linked to Russia’s war in Ukraine. Means people spend more on food in Africa’s largest economy as it becomes more dependent on imported grain, which is priced in US dollars, and its the currency weakens.
Nigeria is trying to become self-sufficient: the government has launched programs to provide loans to farmers and boost domestic grain production. But the extreme weather and violence from both gangs and farmers and cattle herders clashes over resources have hampered those efforts. It has left Nigeria unable to produce enough wheat to close a supply gap of more than 5 million metric tons.
Russia’s decision this week to get out of a deal Allowing Ukraine to ship grain from the Black Sea could make things worse. Ukraine had announced a plan this year to ship more wheat to the West African country at lower prices than expected, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Now, that initiative is in doubt.
The Nigerian program providing loans to growers “worked to a reasonable extent, but corruption played a role, as did farmers defaulting on loans as climate change and insecurity undermined their production.” said Idayat Hassan, a senior fellow for the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Wheat is one of Nigeria’s most widely consumed grains and is mainly imported from the US, South America and Europe, according to Trade Data Monitor. Russia was a key source of affordable wheatbut their shipments have dwindled to next to nothing in the midst of the war.
The producer loan program did not help increase local wheat yields, so the government introduced new initiatives to increase the amount of land harvested and distribute high-yield seeds, pesticides, and equipment to wheat farmers.
With the new efforts, the USDA projects Nigerian wheat production to increase 42 percent in the 2023-2024 marketing year from the previous year. But the agency warned that “the challenges outweigh the opportunities.”
In addition to climate change creating erratic rainfall, extreme heat and dry land, “security challenges in the wheat-growing region restrict farmers’ access to fields,” the USDA said in this year’s Nigeria Grains report. .
“Of course, insecurity is affecting our activities because sometimes we cannot go to our farms even if we plant, and some of our colleagues have stopped farming altogether, while some of us have reduced the number of our farmlands” Sam said. ila Zubairu, a wheat farmer in the violence-ravaged Faskari area of Katsina.
Gangs control vast swaths of rural areas in the north, carry out assassinations and kidnapping for ransom. There are also perennial clashes between farmers and cattle herders competing for land and water.
Zubairu has not seen his land degrade like Salisu, but he said “climate change affects me in two ways: excessive heat and rainfall patterns, which affect my participation.”
He harvested enough wheat to fill 20 bags last year and 18 more recently, up from 35 two years ago.
“And I am not alone,” Zubairu said.
The fact that farmers cannot reach their fields amid the violence triggers “crises of both human security and food security,” said Hassan of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“The price increase has affected me because I have to double the costs of what I normally buy and still couldn’t buy enough,” said Chinedu Edeh, a cooking gas retailer and installation technician in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. . “The pasta has gone from 370 (naira) to 550 per unit.”
He eschewed coarse wheat semolina on his last trip to the market and bought cheaper manioc flakes instead.
Last week, President Bola Tinubu released a policy statement on food and agriculture acknowledging rising food costs and declaring “a state of emergency,” pledging to include food and water availability in the government’s national security system.
Spokesmen for the president and the agriculture ministry declined to comment or did not provide responses to questions.
The government should “appreciate the full scope of how climate change fuels food insecurity and crisis and localize climate plans so that they affect the real people who actually produce food for the country,” Hassan said.
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