Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Cross River, Edo, Rivers, Kano, Niger, Kogi, Plateau, Benue others make list

After admitting that 24.7 million Nigerians in 26 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, have been hit and incapacitated by food and nutrition crisis, the Federal Government is battling to stem the tide.

The figure is projected for between March and May 2024.

The Nigerian government also admitted in a report titled, Cadre Harmonize, CH-Phase 3, Food and Nutrition Insecurity Analysis for Nigeria, presented in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO, and CILSS, at the ‘Results Presentation Workshop’, held in Abuja, that the figure may jump to 31.5 million from May to August.

That is not all.

The report also said that the number of IDPs across the country is expected to increase from 14,000 to 83,846 if measures are not put in place immediately to curb the trend.

These are frightening figures no doubt.

According to the report, affected states under emergency in the North-East include Adamawa, Borno, Yobe and Bauchi while states in the North-West are Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto.

States under the pressure of food and nutrition crisis in the North-East include Taraba and Gombe; North-Central – Plateau, Nasarawa, Benue, Niger, Kogi, Kwara and the FCT; North-West – Kebbi, Jigawa, and Kano; South-West – Ogun and Lagos; and South-South – Cross River, Edo and Rivers.

Those with minimal impact are Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo, Delta, Bayelsa, Imo, Akwa-Ibom, Ebonyi and Anambra.

In a remark at the presentation, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Temitope Fashedemi, represented by the Director, Special Duties, Adedayo Modupe, said the Federal Government was making efforts to address the situation with various agricultural interventions to boost food production across the country.

Protests and measures
Indeed the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, had reported that food inflation was 33.93% in December 2023 compared to 26.98% when President Bola Tinubu declared a state of emergency on the agricultural sector.

Following various protests, including the one by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, that erupted across the country over high food prices, which led to attacks on trucks conveying food items and warehouses, Tinubu convened an emergency meeting to roll out interventions to cushion the impact of high food prices and hunger in the land.

On February 8, 2024, the President directed the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to immediately release 42,000 metric tonnes of grains, including maize, millet, and other commodities, from the national strategic grain reserves, during the meeting of the Presidential Committee on Emergency Food Intervention.

Also, the Rice Millers Association of Nigeria has committed to releasing about 60,000 metric tonnes of rice into markets.

Tinubu, in a broadcast to the nation, announced several initiatives to arrest the soaring prices of food items and calm rising tempers, including supply of fertilisers to farmers and grains to households, increased protection for farmers, identification of 500,000 hectares of land for cultivation, enhanced synergy between the ministries charged with agriculture and water resources, and the elevation of food and water issues as remits of the National Security Council, and others.

The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari, on the orders of the President, also announced that modalities for the release of 42,000 metric tonnes of grains to needy Nigerians from different strategic grain reserves in the country were being worked out with the Department of State Service, DSS, and the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, to make the process seamless and successful.

According to Kyari, the Ministry had also adopted various measures to produce more food to address high food prices.

The Minister is collaborating with the 36 state governors in providing subsidized farm inputs for dry season farming and also wet season farming to boost food production with proper identification of real farmers to benefit from the interventions.

The Federal Government also approved a grant of N185 billion to the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, for the purchase of 100,000 bags of rice and other grains to be distributed as palliatives.

Dangote, others intervene
As part of an intervention to bring relief to vulnerable Nigerians, the Dangote Foundation, on its part, flagged off the distribution of 120,000 bags of 10kg bags of rice to the needy in Kano and Lagos.

The Chairman of the Foundation, Aliko Dangote, explained that 1 million 10kg bags of rice would be distributed to reach 1 million vulnerable people in the entire 774 local government areas of the country, based on compassion and care for Nigerians who cannot afford the high food prices.

Lagos food markets Lagos State government on March 17, 2024, also joined the bid to stem food crisis when it flagged off what it called ‘Ounje Eko’ food markets where people go for discounted prices of different food items in the five divisions the government established in the state as announced by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

Averting projection
Farmers and civil society organizations (CSOs), among other Nigerians, are rattled by the projections and spoke about how to avert 31 million Nigerians being thrown into food and nutrition crisis next month.

What states need to do – AFAN
The National President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, Kabir Ibrahim, expressed concern and said states need to do more to reduce Nigerians affected by food crisis.

Ibrahim told Sunday Vanguard: “I am concerned about the level of food inflation in Nigeria today and dread the news that as high as 24.7 people in 26 states of the federation are already facing acute shortage of food according to the same analysts.

“I am hopeful that these numbers will change very soon as efforts are being made to avert the situation.

“The government is doing a lot to avert this crisis through interventions like dry season farming programmes such as National Agricultural Growth Scheme – Argo-Pocket, NAGS-AP.

“Government should do more especially at the subnational level where agriculture really takes place.
“I recommend that staple foods in each of the six geopolitical zones should be identified and their production scaled up to bring about food sufficiency and ultimately food security will be attained.”

Deploy immediate comprehensive emergency food relief measures –NDYC The National Coordinator, Niger Delta Youth Congress, NDYC, Israel Uwejeyan, on his part, said, “The Niger Delta Youth Congress, NDYC, expresses deep concern over the recent Cadre Harmonise Insecurity Analysis Report revealing that 24.7 million Nigerians in 26 states are facing acute food and nutrition crises between March and May, with an additional 31.5 million expected to be plunged into the crisis from June to August.

“This alarming revelation underscores the urgent need for decisive action to mitigate the suffering of millions of our fellow citizens.

“We are profoundly dissatisfied with the current approach of the government towards addressing the skyrocketing food prices in the country.

“The prevailing situation has inflicted immense hardship on the masses, especially vulnerable communities in the Niger Delta region.

“Despite numerous promises and assurances, little tangible progress has been made to alleviate the plight of those grappling with food insecurity.

“The NDYC want to vehemently urge the government to prioritize the following actions to effectively tackle the looming crisis and prevent further escalations: Immediate deployment of comprehensive emergency food relief measures to the affected states with an emphasis on having a well-structured distribution mechanism that will possibly involve celebrities volunteering to monitor the distribution process for transparency, as most of the government so-called palliatives doesn’t get to the vulnerable ones.

“Government should also implement robust agricultural support programs aimed at revitalizing local food production and enhancing food security resilience in affected communities.

“This should include the provision of agricultural inputs, extension services, and incentives to smallholder farmers.
“We also urge the government to expand the social safety net programmes targeting the most vulnerable groups, including women, children, and internally displaced persons, IDPs, to safeguard their basic nutritional needs and protect them from the adverse effects of the crisis especially those living in the remote swamps of the Niger Delta Region.

“Lastly, we urge the government to focus on peacebuilding by addressing underlying socio-economic and environmental factors fueling conflicts and insecurity in food-producing regions, through sustained peace building efforts and community dialogue initiatives.

“It is imperative for the government to demonstrate unwavering commitment and decisive leadership in addressing the root causes of food insecurity and mitigating its devastating impacts on our citizens. NDYC stands ready to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to ensure the effective implementation of these urgent interventions and safeguard the well-being of our people.”

Food crisis indicates failure to prioritize the welfare of Nigerians – ActionAid
The Country Director, of ActionAid Nigeria, AAN, Andrew Mamedu, said, “The current approach of government in tackling the issue of high food prices in the country is evidently inadequate, given the alarming projections of acute hunger to affect millions of Nigerians in the coming month.

“This should ideally be a deafening alarm bell, which ActionAid had raised and keeps raising, for the federal, state and local governments because it is an indictment of their failure to prioritize the welfare of the Nigerian people over political and economic interests.

“Therefore, anything short of swift and comprehensive action would be a betrayal of the most vulnerable citizens and a stain on the Federal Government’s conscience.

“ActionAid recommends that efforts should be intensified to resolve ongoing conflicts and insecurity in regions heavily affected by food insecurity, particularly in the northeast, north-central, and northwest and even other parts of the country.

“Enhancing the security measures will create an enabling environment for agricultural activities and ensure the safety of vulnerable populations, farmers, especially the women farmers and in transporting the goods from the farms to the cities.

“The Federal Government must implement measures to strengthen the naira and stabilise prices of essential commodities to alleviate the financial burden on households. As it is, addressing the increased cost of fuel, currency devaluation, and rising inflation is essential to stabilising the economy and curbing food price hikes.

“Increased investment in agriculture is crucial to boosting food production and ensuring food availability. This includes providing farmers with necessary support such as improved access to agricultural inputs, credit facilities, and technical assistance to enhance productivity of course, special attention should be given to vulnerable groups, particularly children under five years old, whom the report identifies to be at risk of malnutrition during the food crises.

Implementing nutrition programmes and providing food assistance to these populations will help mitigate the impact of food insecurity on their health and well-being.

“Collaboration between government agencies, international organisations, civil society groups, and other stakeholders is vital for a coordinated response to the food insecurity crisis. Engaging all relevant stakeholders in planning and implementing interventions will ensure a more effective and sustainable approach to addressing the challenges.”

Govt should rise to ensure food security’s guaranteed – CISLAC The Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Awual Rafsanjani, told Sunday Vanguard, ”On this issue of hunger that has been projected and the food and nutrition crisis to have hit over 31 million Nigerians that will face extreme hunger and starvation are things we have been talking with the government to take seriously.

“As a result of insecurity, food production and processing have virtually if not stopped but reduced drastically in the country. The country is also not investing to ensure that agricultural activities are intensified.

“And there is no food reservoir in the country because of so many reasons, and apart from the shortage of food, there is corruption and stealing of public assets including food by some wicked public officials, which is part of the reason we have a shortage of food.

“Again, terrorists and bandits terrorizing farmers and they have not been able to go to farm to produce anything, and because government officials are comfortable with their conditions import everything for their consumption, so they do not know what Nigerians are going through that is why some people stand up in the National Assembly to confirm collecting N500 million in the name of the so-called constituency project, therefore threat to extreme hunger is imminent, and government must do everything possible to rise up to the occasion.

“At least, if every Nigerian would not enjoy other things but they should be able to enjoy food because you cannot continue to emasculate people in all other aspects, and people now cannot afford food, some families to even eat once in a day cannot do that, and that is dangerous, and that must change.

“Government should rise to ensure that food security is guaranteed in Nigeria, and failure to do this would create additional problems for governance in Nigeria.

“CISLAC has been calling on the government to pay attention to the issues of increasing food productivity and ensure that nutrition and food fortification are taken very seriously.

“The last administration appeared to have squandered so much money in the name of Anchor Borrowers Scheme for agriculture but we have not seen the positive results of what the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, at that time claimed to be doing.”

Worse will even be recorded if insecurity persists —FCT AFAN The Chairperson, AFAN, Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Chapter, Nkechi Okafor, said, “I want to start by saying that the amount of money pronounced by the Nigerian government is never a solution to this present predicament facing Nigeria as a country in respect to food crisis but the judicious use of any money mapped out to solve the problem.

“This is not the first time money is said to be pumped into agriculture but the resultant effect is always the same because such money was wrongly handled. It didn’t end at the government’s doorstep but also individuals because many see every avenue as an opportunity to grab a share of the national cake.

“Looking at the analysis stated in this survey, I wish to say that worse will even be recorded if there is no positive move to end insecurity. Human security will lead to food security. Let the government tackle the issue of farmers’ security so that food security will also be achieved. No farming activities, no food production”.

Make access to land for farmers, invest more finance – Agric expert An agricultural expert and Chief Executive Officer, EA Daniels Farm, Daniel Ijeh, said, “My greatest fear is that insecurity and food prices, and malnutrition will increase. There may be unavailability, inaccessibility and unaffordability of food by Nigerians.

“I am an engineer and a farmer, and I grow many tonnes of farm produce every year. Regarding how the government is handling the situation, what I have to say is that in Delta State where I live, I have not seen anything that has been done.

“I think the government is seriously working on it in the media only. This is because fertilizer price and other farm inputs costs is going up.

“Insecurity threat is rising and access to tractors is not available. My colleague and I lost about ¦ 1,000,000 to access the tractor last month. So, I have not seen what the government is doing to boost food production.

“On what should be done to stem the crisis that is not just predicted, but grappling with, the following should be put in place; insecurity should be addressed; inputs should be subsidized; government should intervene in access to farmland; farm financing should be looked into; and high yield farming expertise should be harnessed and spread by government.”

Revert fuel subsidy removal – SWOFON The National President, the Small-scale Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria, SWOFON, Fatima Gunmi, said: “I doubt if I will be wrong to say I don’t believe that the government is tackling high prices in the country.

“The high prices in the country will be difficult to go down. The reasons that have caused them to go up are not being taken care of.

“Those in a position to tackle issues are less concerned. In my own thinking, two to three major things are to be addressed for us to succeed or have some relief.

“Let us identify these major things, which mean that by implications, there are others. “First and foremost, the masses are the ones mostly affected, and until and unless something is done, the situation will go beyond hunger to severe malnutrition, then a high incidence of disease outbreak and death.

“Had it been there appropriate, adequate, stringent guidelines and measures put in place, the situation wouldn’t have deteriorated.

“I don’t think measures to avert the situation were in place. Otherwise, there would not be an increment in the number of people facing acute food and nutrition crises.

“It is very unfortunate that we found ourselves in this menace despite the human and material resources available in abundance.

“The issue of inflation has been with us for some time now, but it wants to get out of control since the removal of fuel subsidies.

“It is sad to hear that the figure will increase between May and August. In my opinion, what should be done to stem the said crisis predicted to engulf 31.5 million Nigerians between May and August is to revert back to the decision on the fuel subsidy removal.

“The fuel subsidy removal has affected everything in human endeavours, especially food right from planning, planting, production, inputs, labour harvesting, transportation, preservation, trading, and others.

“Government should get a way of reducing inflation caused by FX issues; government should put control on all commodities; insecurity challenges should be tackled vigorously by the government; boost for agricultural practices should be given to genuine farmers such as training, extension services, grants, land ownership, inputs, timely supply of fertilizers, equipment, improved seeds, and others to improve productivity.

”Government should stop paying lip services to issues concerning food security; strengthen local and regional markets linkages; reduce dependency on volatile global markets and ensure fair prices for produce; palliative should be given to serve the purpose, which beneficiaries should be given a reasonable quantity each.

“Government should support and facilitate irrigation farming to have food all year round; provide support for alternative livelihood options and income generation activities to diversify economic opportunities to farmers and non-farmers, thereby reducing their vulnerability to external shocks; climate resilient farming practices that promote the adaptation of climate smart farming technologies that help farmers to adapt to changing environmental conditions and minimize risks associated with climate change; the political will to the issues of inflation and food security; our leaders should ensure policies made are also pursued with vigour; and commitment on the part of every Nigerian so as to ensure food security”.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.