Extreme weather events such as drought, flood and heat waves constitute a serious threat to food security at both the household, community, regional, national and global levels, the Director General, Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Dr. Anthony Anuforom has declared.
Dr. Anuforom who made the declaration as Guest Lecturer at the 10th Annual Lecture Series of the Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Nnamdi Azikilwe University, Awka, said the threat is 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”, Anuforom said that throughout history, the search for food has been the most fundamental human activity, and has influenced human behavior 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. He said: “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”. The good news however, according to the DG 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”.
He 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.