World Food Day: Nigerians Cry To Tinubu As Hunger Bites Harder


LAGOS OCTOBER 16TH (NEWSRANGERS)-As Nigeria joins rest of the world tomorrow to mark World Food Day amid worsening food crisis that is spreading like a wild fire across the country and forcing many into begging for alms just to have a meal, stakeholders have urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration to quickly arrest the situation before it degenerates further.

Although climate change issues have impacted food production globally, however, years of neglect of the agricultural sector and over reliance on imported food items have worsened Nigeria’s situation more so in the face of the raging foreign exchange crisis that saw the naira exchange for the dollar at the parallel market between 1,005/$ and 1,025/$ as at last Tuesday.

The situation has seen the standard of living of Nigerians plummet with many opting to migrate in search of greener pastures, now known locally as japa syndrome, while those still chiseling life out in the country keep wondering if the government is aware of their conditions.

Few months ago, a joint report issued by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) revealed that over 24.8 million Nigerians will be at risk of acute food insecurity between June and August.

“In Nigeria, acute food insecurity is expected to deteriorate in the outlook period, driven by the multidimensional security crisis, together with weak macroeconomic conditions and multiple natural hazards.

“Over 24.8 million people are projected to be acutely food insecure between June and August 2023, including 1.1 million people in emergency (CH Phase 4,” the report said.

The projection seems to have been exceeded, especially in the aftermath of the fuel subsidy removal and other policies of the Tinubu administration that have pushed up the country’s headline inflation to 25.80 per cent in August this year.

A World Bank report on food security issued last June stated that about 64 million Nigerians were at risk of an emergency food crisis owing to the attendant effects of rising inflation, insecurity and climate change, among others.

According to the report, “107.5 million people are considered to be at risk of falling into food crisis in the event of shocks from June through August 2023, particularly in Nigeria (64 million), Niger Republic (7.3 million) and Burkina Faso (5.1 million).”

The Global Hunger Index report released last year had ranked Nigeria 103 out of 121 countries, a position that signifies the seriousness of the nation’s hunger level.

The report, which ranks countries by severity, gave Nigeria a score of 27.3 – a hunger level falling under the serious category.

The index has five levels of hunger under which each country falls – low, moderate, serious, alarming and extremely alarming.

In 2021, Nigeria ranked 103 out of 116 countries and 98 among 107 countries in 2020.

A farmer and Founder of Menitos Farm Depot, Lagos, Toluwalope Daramola, who expressed grief over the development, said the food crisis is seriously affecting Nigerians, especially low-income earners and the vulnerable, who could no longer afford the high cost of foodstuff and other agro commodities.

“Like it or not, many people might die of hunger if there is no urgent intervention to ameliorate the suffering of the people. Many people survived the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, but might die of hunger before food finds them. To eat at this present time is war. I mean practically, everything is on the high side and we have a very terrible situation on the ground,” she said.

A market survey conducted by The Guardian showed that the price of some foodstuffs increased by above 50 per cent in the last three months, taking the commodities beyond the reach of the masses.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in its Food Price Watch report, released a fortnight ago, showed a continuous increase in food prices in August, detailing how the prices of rice, beef, tomatoes, beans, garri, yam and other food items increased astronomically.

The report stated that while the average price of one kilogramme (kg) of boneless beef was N2, 141.18 in August 2022, it increased by 30.75 per cent to N2, 799.51 in August 2023.

It added that the average price of one kilogramme of local rice increased by 62.68 per cent on a year-on-year basis, from N454.10 in August 2022 to N738.74 in August 2023.

On a month-on-month basis, one kilogramme of local rice increased by 13.04 per cent from the N653.49 recorded in July 2023.

The report stated that the average price of one kilogramme of brown beans increased by 27 per cent on a year-on-year basis from N545.61 in August 2022 to N692.95 in August 2023, adding that the average price of one kilogramme of yam tuber increased by 42.80 per cent on a year-on-year basis from N403.65 in August 2022 to N576.39 in August 2023.

“Average price of garri increased by 49.16 per cent on a year-on-year-basis, from N305.92 in August 2022 to N456.32 in August 2023; on a month-on-month basis, the price increased by 6.15 per cent from the N429.89 recorded in July to N456.32 recorded in August 2023,” the report said.

On state profile analysis, the report showed that the highest average price of one kilogramme of boneless beef was recorded in Anambra at N3, 790.02, while the lowest price was recorded in Kogi at N1, 835.71.

It added that Ondo recorded the highest average price of one kilogramme of local rice at N903.26, while the lowest was recorded in Benue at N529.72.

The NBS stated that the highest average price of one kilogramme of brown beans was recorded in Imo at N1, 087.14, while the lowest price was recorded in Kogi at N480.34.

The report stated that Akwa Ibom recorded the highest average price of one kilogramme of yam tuber at N1, 030.71, while Adamawa recorded the lowest price at N328.71.

A 50kg bag of rice, which sold for between N28, 000 and N32, 000 between last December and February 2023 has increased to between N46, 000 and 48,000, depending on the market and location.

A carpenter, Alao Kazeem, who lamented the level of hardship in the country, said: “There is no doubt that there is hunger in the land. I don’t know how many of us will survive this period. Prices of foodstuffs and other commodities have practically gone beyond our reach and we don’t even have any money to buy them. Stimulus packages promised by the government have not reached us, despite the noise. This is a very terrible situation.

“Why is every situation an opportunity to exploit the people? Where is the compassion and pity in us? Our leaders don’t care. People in government don’t believe anyone is suffering; they don’t believe there is hunger in the land. They always have the belief that all Nigerians are enjoying themselves.”

The Lagos Commissioner of Agriculture, Abisola Olusanya, told The Guardian that the serious food security issues in the country was occasioned by the effect of unstable exchange rate, climate change, environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, insurgency, especially in the nation’s food production regions, and violent conflicts across the world.

“These challenges have severely impacted the global supply of food, which calls for intensified efforts towards building more sustainable food systems to scale food production and processing, reduce food wastage, provide decent livelihood opportunities for rural, peri-urban and urban farmers, as well as ensure food and nutrition security for Lagosians,” he said.

The Chief Executive Officer of Green Sahara Farms, Plateau State, Suleiman Dikwa, urged the Federal Government and other players in the food sector to rethink and adopt a fresh approach to ensure food security.

While linking the challenge to the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine/Russia war, Dikwa noted that climate change has a dual effect on rural farmers as it denies them economic returns amid the environmental issues associated with it.

“To address the current food crisis, we have to completely review our agricultural and economic policies to reflect this reality through a button-up approach to talking about insecurity. While the export dollars look attractive, we have to answer the question of the farmer that has remained poor. With very scarce resources, it presents an opportunity to create resilient communities as a building block of a new economy whereby well-being commences at the very bottom.

“When communities become resilient, the majority will be fed and subsequently produce premium healthy and natural products for premium prices. It is important, therefore, that we rethink our quest for massive mechanisation and commercialisation to wit. We have failed woefully and play to our strength,” he said.

Dikwa, who said that food insecurity is a global issue as the climate devastation all over the world would affect the yields from the farms, noted that the major role a government could play was to offer palliatives.

“We need to develop short, medium and long term solutions. By comparison, Nigeria has not done badly in managing inflation, but our cry is that we know we can have a better economy. The issue is beyond the farmer but a global economic issue that cuts across sectors,” he added.

At the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA78) in New York City, the President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Dr. Agnes Kalibata, stressed the need for a distinct transformational plan to address the food requirements of the 65 per cent of the population dependent on agriculture and employment creation.

Amid the uncertainties surrounding the issue of water scarcity, food insecurity and the looming specter of climate change in the continent, Kalibata emphasised the pivotal role of climate change in exacerbating hunger, highlighting the importance of building resilient food systems capable of withstanding its impacts.

On his part, a Partner at Acre Venture Partners, Sam Kass, disclosed that intra-Africa trade in food currently stands at 15 per cent, showcasing the untapped potential for the continent to achieve self-sufficiency and foster food product trade.

Kass, who emphasised the urgency of addressing climate change, warned of the imminent risks to global food stability and security, noting that the consequences include food scarcity, political instability, forced migration and conflicts, all stemming from the decline of essential commodities.

To address this problem, the former Chairman, Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) – Agric sector/Managing Director of Bama Farms, Lagos, Prince Wale Oyekoya, urged the Tinubu administration to provide adequate funds to real farmers and hybrid seeds that are suitable for the country’s climate and soil.

He also called for the provision of storage facilities to store farm produce to avoid post and pre-harvest losses, building of farm settlements across the 774 local councils and provision of modern tools to farmers even as he urged the state governments to provide lands to farmers without titles.

He also called for the provision of processing facilities to add value for onward exportation of farm produce; strengthening of the commodities exchange board; appointing real farmers as advisers to the Agric Ministry and provision of modern irrigation systems, among others.


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