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Nigeria’s food insecurity fears have heightened as crop production is not moving in the same trajectory as population growth.
Africa’s most populous nation is populated with 201 million people who must be fed with staples ranging from rice, beans, tomatoes and maize among others.
Yet, there is still much demand-supply gap in most of the staple foods, even as the population growth rate stands at 2.6 percent per annum. The World Population Prospects 2017 has projected Nigeria’s population to surpass 300 million people mark by 2050.
Experts say this might create food scarcity and hike in prices if the country fails to grow more food for its rising population.
“We are not producing enough currently because farmers are still farming using old farming techniques and our yield per hectare is still very low when compared with other nations of the world,” said Abiodun Olorundenro, manager, Aquashoots Limited.
“Our population is growing very fast and we are yet to increase our productivity. This is even making the few available more expensive for consumers,” Olorundenro said.
Latest data from Agriculture Ministry show that Nigeria is the largest producer of yam with 40 million metric tons per annum but yam demand in the country is 60 million metric tonnes per annum (MT), leaving a gap of 20 million MT.
Nigeria produces 42 million MT of cassava but has a demand of 53.8 million MT of the crop, leaving a gap of 11.8 million MT.
National supply for Irish potato is put at 900,000 MT per annum but with a demand of 8million MT and a gap of 7.1 million MT.
Similarly, local production of sweet potato is estimated at 1.2 million MT, while demand is 6million MT, leaving a gap of 4.8 million MT.
More so, Nigeria produces 400,000 MT of wheat annually but with a demand of 4 million MT, which leaves a gap of 3.6million MT.
Nigeria’s ginger production is 310,000 MT but demand is 650,000 MT, leaving a gap of 340,000 MT.
Nigeria’s rice production has risen to 5.3 million MT but demand is still 7.2 million MT, leaving a gap of 1.9 million MT.
Maize production in the country is put at 10.5 million MT but demand is 15 million MT, leaving a gap of 4.5 million mt.
Local Soybean production is 750,000 MT but domestic demand is 2 million MT, meaning there is a gap of 1.3 million MT.
Acha production is 78,000 MT but with local demand reaching 187,000 MT, there is a gap of 109,000 MT. Sesame production is 200,000 MT but demand is 600,000, leaving a gap of 400,000 MT.
Local shea nut production is 200,000 MT but demand is 1.4 million MT, implying there is a gap of 1.2 million MT. Castor production is 014,000 MT. However, demand is 510,000, leaving a gap of 496,000 MT.
Nigeria produces 2.5 million metric tonnes of tomato but citizens need 6 million MT of it to survive, leaving a gap of 3.5 million MT.
Sorghum production in the country is 11 million MT while demand is 12.5 million MT, showing a gap of 1.5 million MT.
Ibrahim Kabiru, national president, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, said Nigeria must now increase its mechanisation to meet the ever-increasing mouths needed to be fed.
“We must start farming all year round and provide farmers with improved seeds varieties to increase our yield per hectare to produce enough for our population,” Kabiru told BusinessDay.