Drought in Northern Nigeria and Stability of Food Prices in Nigeria in 2015

Drought is generally referred to as a delay in the onset of rain or its conditions. Technically, drought is an extended period when a region receives a deficiency in its water supply whether atmospheric, surface or ground water (Wikipedia 2015).

Experts have argued that although droughts can persist for several years, even a short intense drought can cause significant damage. A drought may occur for a myriad of reasons, however a common factor which causes drought is a consistently below average precipitation or rainfall.

Over the years a consistent shift in the climatic and weather conditions in Nigeria and particularly northern Nigeria has become noticeable. This may be attributed to the general change in the global climatic conditions as a result of global warming. For instance, the onset of the rainy season on the average is often expected to commence in Northern Nigeria between late March and April, but the current weather conditions shows a deviation from this trend particularly in 2015.

The implication of this on the general price stability and even availability of food/agricultural products in the entire country can be predicted. This is consequent upon the fact that the geographical Northern region of Nigeria to a large extent is the ecological zone were vegetable crops such as tomatoes, pepper, spinach, carrots and others are grown. Cereals/grains such as maize, rice, beans, sorghum and others are also exensively cultivated within this ecological zone.

The type of agriculture practised in this zone is still to a large extent rain fed or rain dependent. Hence it is important for policy makers to take note of the positive corelation between annual rainfall and annual crop yield within this ecological zone.

Its trite to repeat that most of the crops within this zone constitute the staple diet for most Nigerians. Hence as the year progresses, it might not be unusual to begin to notice a mismatch between crop (food) demand and crop (food) supply in the country as a result of the current drought conditions being faced. This in the long run is expected to lead to an increase in prices of food stuffs because the supply might not match or meet the demand for food stuffs.

This emerging or anticipated scenario calls for a concerted, integrated and proactive approach on the part of policy makers in this important sector. Because as we know, food is indeed a strategic issue
of national interest.

Babs Iwalewa
@babsiwalewa (twitter)

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