In the heart of Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria, a delicate dance unfolds daily, a dance where the steps are the price tags on essential groceries, and the rhythm is the collective heartbeat of millions. This is a tale of sustenance and stability, where the future of a nation finds itself intricately woven into the fabric of its food supply and the equilibrium of its markets.
As the sun rises over the bustling streets of Nigeria, as cassava leaves simmer and jollof rice flavors the air, a fundamental question lingers like a fragrant spice: Can a nation that thrives on the diversity of its cuisine and the richness of its traditions also conquer the challenges of food security and price stability?
Now, we embark on a journey into the heart of Nigeria’s culinary landscape, exploring the complex nexus of food security and price stability. We delve into the vibrant markets, rural farmlands, and urban kitchens, engaging with the voices of experts, and everyday citizens, all striving to ensure that Nigeria’s food remains abundant, accessible, and affordable.
Let us navigate the colorful markets and fertile fields, and seek solutions that can not only fill plates but also shape a brighter, more secure future for all Nigerians.
Some agriculture experts have proffered workable measures to ensure food security and price stability in Nigeria amidst rising inflation.
The stakeholders proffered solutions in separate interviews with the media last week in Lagos State.
Dr Ismail Olawale, a fellow at National Agriculture Extension and Research Liaison Services, attributed hike in prices of food items to porous borders.
According to him, foods locally cultivated are being smuggled outside the shores of the country to the detriment of our food security status.
“Unfortunately, there are numbers of unofficially recorded exportation of food items and other commodities that are produced in Nigeria.
“Nigeria has comparative advantage at producing food at cheaper prices but it is being smuggled out at the detriment of our border system and achieving food security of the country.
“Nigeria can produce what will feed its citizens but we need to put in place mechanism that will ensure that what we are harvesting across all the value chains of all crops are well preserved.
“They should be reserved strategically across the country.
“It is important that we strategise how we also monitor food production, conservation, even our markets in Nigeria since we are talking about food security,” he said.
He also advised that after harvest Nigerian could also protect its border, so that the food would not go out as soon as they were harvested by the small scale farmers.
Olawale added that a very good measure must be put in place to monitor movement of food across Nigeria borders especially into neighbouring African countries.
Also speaking, Mr Akin Alabi, co-founder Corporate Farmers International, highlighted three pivotal points needed for proper coordination of food security and stability in food prices.
Alabi called for increase in productivity of farm produce, state partnerships in agric-business and security to boost food security.
“As a nation, it is paramount for us to begin to see reasons why we need to increase our productivity across agricultural value chains majorly in crop production such as maize, rice, sorghum and millet.
“We need to increase what we produce and this can actively be done by private partner participation across all sectors and the adoption of new technologies.
“Our population is increasing, every year; we have increased in population which cannot be matched with the current production of food. So there is need to improve productivity.
“We need to invest in agriculture from production to farm management to distribution and market.
“If we do things right, we will be able to achieve high productivity in food and reduction in food prices because when there is more, people will have access to it,” Alabi added.
On his part, Mr Tunde Banjoko, the Managing director B.O Farms Ltd, called for the involvement of the right experts to propel the agricultural sector.
Banjoko described the current high food prices in Nigeria as worrisome and avoidable.
He stressed the need for technocrats to be involved in the sector for the right policies.
“Hunger as a weapon will negatively influence the citizens; we cannot use palliatives to solve this issue. We need food security not palliatives.
“We need to start paying serious attention to the issues leading to increased food prices most of which are obvious and resolvable with commitment and political will to make a change in the ugly narrative.
“The rising cost of most staple food items in Nigeria has been very alarming in recent times in a country where the average earnings is about N11,000 per month and about 50 per cent to 70 per cent of income spent on feeding.
“This has contributed largely to our rising inflation figures now at 26.7 per cent in September from 25.8 per cent in August 2023.
“Prices of all food items have now doubled or tripled in some cases, this is really worrisome as it’s been felt by the majority of the populace,” Banjoko said.
Speaking with, Adeyemo Olashina, a seasoned farmer with decades of experience, offered a comprehensive perspective on addressing the critical issues of food security and price stability. In his view, the solution involves a multi-faceted approach that encompasses various aspects of agriculture and government intervention.
First and foremost, Olashina emphasized the need for sustainable agricultural practices. He stressed that farmers should adopt environmentally friendly methods, such as crop rotation, integrated pest management, and organic farming. These practices not only preserve the land for future generations but also contribute to consistent and high-quality yields.
Modern farming technologies, according to Olashina, are another key element in achieving food security and price stability. He mentioned the importance of investing in irrigation systems, mechanized farming equipment, and improved crop varieties. Such advancements can significantly increase productivity, reduce production costs, and minimize the risks associated with weather fluctuations and pests.
Olashina pointed out that government support plays a crucial role in this endeavor. He called for policies that facilitate farmers’ access to training and education, as well as resources like seeds, fertilizers, and credit. Additionally, he stressed the importance of infrastructure development, such as building better roads for easier transportation of agricultural produce to markets.
To ensure price stability, Olashina recommended creating a stable and transparent market for agricultural products. He highlighted the significance of reducing post-harvest losses through proper storage facilities and efficient supply chains. By doing so, the market can better balance supply and demand, leading to fair prices for both farmers and consumers.
In summary, Olashina’s comprehensive perspective on food security and price stability revolves around sustainable farming practices, technological advancements, government support, and the establishment of efficient markets. These measures, in his opinion, would help ensure a stable and abundant food supply while maintaining reasonable prices for consumers.