Hunger Looms As Flooding Spikes Prices Of Food Items In Nigeria
The raging flood that has ravaged most parts of Nigeria, has claimed the lives over 600 people, displaced over two million, and destroyed nearly 110,000 hectares of farmland.
This is happening when the country’s insecurity has brought about food crisis and just as harsh economic conditions keep biting harder, with food inflation year-on-year hitting 23.3 percent in September.
It’s is also coming amid the Federal Government’s restriction on the importation of rice which was aimed at increasing local production and self-sufficiency.
From the start of last year, the prices of rice, maize and wheat had increased by 50 percent due to fertiliser shortage and rising price of diesel and fuel. However, the recent flooding is expected to further inflate the prices than normal.
Food stuffs are left stranded or later spoil as the roads linking communities and states where the foods items are usually transported through, have become inaccessible due to the huge flood.
Also, crops and farmlands where they are produced have been washed away, leaving many farmers losing their source of income and livelihood.
This has in turn, led to scarcity of food and and hike in prices of the available but scarce food stuffs which is already worsening the already aggravated hunger and poverty in the country.
Livestock is also affected by the flood as Innocent Aluu in Bayelsa said he lost nearly 10,000 fowls, estimated at N30 million, in his poultry farm to waterborne diseases. He said, “I feel like running away, nobody can think straight
Traders now resort to transporting the goods they have left using motorbikes which is riskier and more costly than using a car or bus. Others resort to using wheel-barrows, if the distance they are transporting their goods to isn’t that far, although they run the risk of being swept away by the flood.
Finding reveal that the fewer number of trucks now transport food items to Lagos from the north, which has aggravated the scarcity of food items and surged the prices.
Umaru Usman, at Kara market along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway disclosed that a bag of maize that cost about N15,000, now sells at N29,000.
“Everything here now is costly. Tomatoes are not coming as they used to be. At Kara here, many of the trucks we were expecting could not really come since the flood started. The flood is not only affecting the North, even here, we are facing the challenges,” Usman said.
Counting his losses, Emmanuel Ahiakwo, a farmer in Rivers State said, “I lost over 10 hectares of farmland to flooding and this adversely affected food supplies to Port Harcourt and other neighbouring communities in the state.
Another farmer in Rivers said, “It’s a very bad time for commercial farmers like us who are into big time farming. I have a very big pineapple and plantain farm, which I supply to my customers in Port Harcourt. Our farm was destroyed by flood and this affected our businesses. The supply chain has been lost and we are finding it very difficult to cope with the situation.”