#Editorial

Worsening Food Crisis in Nigeria

FOOD insecurity remains a big threat to Nigeria, the Africa’s largest economy. More than ever, the nation is experiencing a severe hunger with the sky-high inflation on food products and other commodities.  The menace of insecurity, removal of petrol subsidy and other policy interventions from the Nigerian government have worsened the situation.

DURING the unveiling of the October 2023 Cadre Harmonisé analysis on food insecurity, the Government of Nigeria and its partners had disclosed that the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, FAO in Nigeria had projected 26.5million people grappling with high levels of food insecurity. Approximately nine million children are now at the risk of suffering from acute malnutrition or wasting. Of these, it was stated that an alarming 2.6 million children could face Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) and require critical nutrition treatment.

AT present, prices of staple foods: rice, beans, yams, garri, and other commodities have soared by 300 percent compared with prices in the last two years.A market survey conducted recently showed that a bag of Nigerian(local) rice costs N77,000, beans- Honey (Oloyin), costs N65,000 and Sokoto beans – N115,000. The most unbelievable is garri, which now costs N1,000 per Congo, not to mention the increase in prices of provisions.SB Morgen’s report said Nigeria is facing a persistent food crisis that is continually aggravated by insecurity, poor policies, adverse weather conditions, and international events such as the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

THE last administration had recorded persistent violence in the north-eastern states and some states in South West which hinders food production and access. Farmers have been aggressively sent away from their farms by armed bandits who invaded their farmlands with their cattle to eat and destroy their crops and sometimes kill the farm owners. The effect of the removal of petrol subsidy has worsened the situation. In the last one year, the hike in the cost of petroleum products immediately triggered an increase in transportation fares and prices of goods and services, including foodstuffs by various percentages, ditto, the dollar rate to naira.

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THEREFORE, government must strive to solve the problem as this will help to eradicate hunger and combat food inflation.  We, therefore, insist and reiterate the urgency for the creation of state police, so they can police their neighborhood and environment effectively, to enable people to do farming and their businesses without harassment and killings. There will be sufficient food if government can confront insecurity. On July 13, 2023, President Tinubu declared a State of Emergency on food insecurity to tackle the increase in food prices. He also directed that “all matters pertaining to food and water availability and affordability, as essential livelihood items, be included within the purview of the National Security Council.” But as the government policies begin to impact socio-economic realities, prices of food and other essentials continue to soar high.

IN Nigeria these days, many people go to bed hungry, hence government should come up with plans to mitigate this as nothing traumatizes the food crisis than for some parents putting up their children for sale to feed. Some even engage in cannibalism.  We emphasise that the government should address the ongoing food crisis ravaging the country, to forestall any situation of people dropping dead on the roads. A former Special Adviser to Ondo State Governor on Health matters and ex-National President of the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, Professor Dayo Faduyile, has expressed concern that the current economic hardship caused by the fuel subsidy removal has started having psychological effects that include cases of depression, aggressiveness and possible suicide. Nutritionists have also stressed the importance of food which is needed for survival.

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THE Hope notes the efforts of government to farmers, especially the initiative in the South to grow agricultural products peculiar to the North, particularly tomatoes, cucumber, etc and we commend some farmers in Ondo State for the aggressive energy diffused into tomatoes’ farming, which has been feeding South West states. But unfortunately, the unfavourable traumatic change in weather has put pressure on agricultural products.

IT was revealed about two weeks ago that, some northern traders brought trucks to Ogbese in Ondo State, and mopped the available bags of rice.

REPORTS indicate that Nigeria still imports millet, maize, wheat, soya, and it is now obvious we cannot produce adequate food for livestock. Fifty percent of poultry farms have closed down.

WE emphasise the need to encourage more youths to go back to the farm while government support in terms of seedlings, chemical and equipment etc. Government should secure the environment for them. In any nation which desires to have a bumper harvest, mechanised farming is very essential. Hence, we must begin to deploy technology and make farming attractive. The government should encourage and invest in urban farming by ensuring stability in food-producing regions, adequate storage infrastructure, and provide agricultural commercialisation to put an end to the ugly trend.

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