Extreme Weather Conditions Threat To Food Security—– Anuforom
… Says Agro-Meteorological Info, Weather Forecasts Be Incorporated Into Agricultural Extension Package To Farmers
The Director General, Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), Dr. Anthony Anuforom has declared that extreme weather conditions such as drought, flood and heat waves constitute a serious threat to food security at both the household, community, regional, national and global levels.
He made the declaration on Tuesday as Guest Lecturer at the 10th Annual Lecture Series of the Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Nnamdi Azikilwe University, Awka.
Anuforom stated that the threat was as a result of the high vulnerability of agricultural production to weather variabilities.
Speaking on the theme, “The Impact of Extreme Weather Events on Food Security in Nigeria”, the NIMET boss said that throughout history, the search for food has been the most fundamental human activity and has influenced human behaviour and activities.
He however regretted that man’s quest for food security has continued to be hampered by extreme weather events.
He said in Nigeria, agriculture is predominantly rain-fed system and therefore highly vulnerable to rainfall extremes, adding that recurrent droughts since the 1960s, “particularly those of the 1970s and 1980s, have been a great challenge to agricultural production and food security in the country.”
Flooding, which he noted is at the opposite extreme end of the spectrum of rainfall, is as devastating and detrimental to the quest for food security as drought.
According to him, “In 2012 Nigeria experienced one of the most devastating flooding on record. The floods destroyed farmlands and other means of livelihood of many households and killed very large numbers of livestock in the affected areas. The floods also destroyed roads, bridges and other infrastructure. The cumulative effect was a decrease in the availability as well as economic and physical access to food in the affected areas.”
He however pointed out that the good news is that the impact of extreme weather events on food security in Nigeria can be managed through “climate change adaptation policies and appropriate economic framework by government.”
Anuforom further stated that weather forecast and climate predictions, such as NIMET’s Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP), as well as other meteorological Early Warning Products “are useful tools for reducing vulnerability of agriculture and food security to extreme weather events” in the country.
Anuforom said in view of the fact that food insecurity could create the atmosphere for and even fuel Socio-political instability, policies and programmes for ensuring adequate food for citizens are usually priorities of governments all over the world and commended the present administration’s effort in this direction.
In his words, “With regard to economic policy framework, the present federal government, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, has stated that agriculture extension service will be strengthened as part of the strategies to improve agricultural yield and food security in the country. This is obviously a laudable policy direction.”
He stressed that to achieve better results from this policy, agro-meteorological information and weather forecasts should be incorporated as part of the agricultural extension package given to farmers; alongside improved seeds, fertilizers, tractors and other physical items.
This, he stated would enable farmers to better manage risks associated with weather extremes.
In his Welcome address, the Dean, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Prof. Joel Igbokwe, said that a nation’s development is largely measured on the ability of that nation to feed her population and guaranty food security for her people at all times, stressing that extreme weather events can however reduce the ability of any nation to feed her people if not well monitored and controlled.
Igbokwe stated that all over the world, there was a growing concern that these extreme weather events would have the very negative impact on global food production, adding that if not properly monitored, managed and controlled could drastically reduce the ability of poorer and developing countries, including Nigeria to produce regular crops for their population.
He described the timing and theme of this year’s annual lecture as very apt and also observed that severe shortage in food production will expose people living in the developing countries to political and economic instability and conflicts.
According to him, “It is this concern that motivated us to select this topic for our annual lecture.”