Editorial: Averting food insecurity in Nigeria

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In May, 2021, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) raised alarm that not less than 9.2 million Nigerians faced worse levels of food insecurity between March and May. This according to the organisation was due to armed conflicts, effects of covid-19 pandemic and climate change.

The FAO estimated that of the 9.2 million, 3.2 million are in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states ravaged by Boko Haram terrorists. According to FAO, “This figure is expected to increase to over 12.8 million people, of whom 4.4 million are in the three north-eastern states, during June–August 2021, unless resilience-focused and humanitarian actions are taken.

The UN body also highlighted the increasing number of forced displacements in the country, particularly in areas where armed attacks are more intensive, which affects the lives of millions of people in Africa’s most populous country.

“Increased violence and forced displacement continue to affect the humanitarian situation in north-eastern Nigeria – the key hotspot of the armed conflict in the country – that has been further aggravated by trade disruptions and an economic decline linked to the effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19),” the FAO said.

In spite the drop in the headline inflation of the country, consumer price index continues to be on the high side. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, in September, the prices of goods and services measured by the CPI rose by 16.63 percent.

Nigeria is the second largest producer of Cocoa in the world with an average of 420,000 tons in the 1960s. Also, Nigeria produced an average of 70 percent of the world yam. The yam surplus in Nigeria hits about 18.3 million tonnes annually, representing 73.8 percent of total yam production in the continent. Equally, in cassava production, the country is next to Thailand in global production. It is rather unfortunate that for a country that is endowed with these potentials and opportunities, food crisis would be a real challenge

More also in rice production Nigeria is ranked the 14th largest rice producer in the world and the first in Africa with average production volume of 4 million metric tons in 2019. In spite this, Nigeria is yet to reach its potential in rice production.

With this opportunities and potentials all over the country, Nigeria’s inability to meet its food demands is self-inflicting and totally avoidable. The frequent clashes between farmers and herders that is highly politicised and left to fester degenerated into banditry. This led to criminals kidnapping and killing farmers while on their farms or on their way to their farmland.

Although climate change contributed to food insecurity in the country, the effect of climate change is also avoidable to a certain extent. Had the government taken proactive measures to mitigate the effect on socioeconomic live of Nigerians, climate change would rather contribute less factors to food insecurity.

The government at all levels and relevant stakeholders within the polity must realise that the use of essential resources such as ecosystems, water, energy, land and others and its wastage contributed to food insecurity. Today, most villages and rural areas that still have the privilege of farming are either cut off from the urban centres and industries that are in need of their produce due to lack of motorable road and access.

Should this dangerous element remain unchecked by the government and policymakers in the country, Nigeria may be in for famine, food and security crisis.

We therefore call on the government at the federal, states and the local government level to rise to the occasion and put a last end to the insecurity challenges that have discouraged farmers from going to farms. The recurrent clashes between farmers and herders should be settled for peace to reign.

More also, the government must realise that government all across the globe are rising to the realities of climate change on human activities. The earlier the better Nigeria wakes up to the realities of climate change and activate mechanisms that would insulate Nigerians from its harsh realities.

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