Food shortage: FG urged to boost local production, agriculture

Recentlythe Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has predicted that around 19.4 million Nigerians could face acute food and nutrition insecurity between June and August.

The forecast came amid unresolved rise in food prices driven largely by insecurity that has driven farmers away from their farms due to persistent attacks, destruction of crops not yet harvested and the threat to their lives.

A financial information services center, ProShare, reported that the activities of herders, kidnappers and bandits had displaced farming communities, displaced around 2.6 million people and limited agricultural production. He added that the wheat production in Borno State accounts for 30% of the national wheat production but due to the activities of the terrorist group Boko Haram, the state has contributed almost nothing to the total of about 420,000 tons.

The situation of insecurity is not the only culprit. In a previous report by The puncheconomists have identified the devaluation of the naira, bandit attacks on agricultural areas, rising relative commodity prices and rising transport costs as factors contributing to the increase.

Statista, in its list of the 20 countries with the highest inflation rate in 2020, indicated that Nigeria ranked 15th with an estimated inflation rate of 13.25% while Pakistan ranked 20th. rank with an inflation rate of 10.74%.

Furthermore, in a monthly comparison of the consumer price index from 2019 to 2021, Statista reported a 17% increase in August 2021 compared to August 2020, when Nigeria’s CPI stood at 391, 5. Last Friday, information on the Central Bank of Nigeria website showed that the inflation rate in February 2022 was 15.7%.

Statista also reported an increase in the prevalence of undernourishment and food insecurity in the country, indicating that “the share of the population suffering from food insecurity increased from 35.6% to 57.7% between 2018 and 2020”, while the undernourished increased from 7.1 percent to 14.6 percent.

Furthermore, the sharp rise in the price of petroleum products had a significant effect on food prices. A few days ago, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria decried the sharp increase in the price of automotive diesel, also known as diesel, from N320 to N750. As a result, bread makers, under the umbrella of the Premium BreadMakers Association of Nigeria, have threatened to shut down their operations in the country.

The National Bureau of Statistics previously reported a 36.98% increase in the price of diesel between February 2021 and February 2022.

Continuing, the FAO said that about 14.4 million Nigerians, including 385,000 displaced people in 21 states and the Federal Capital Territory, are currently facing food crisis.

In its Food Security Analysis report, also known as Cadre Harmonise, Lagos State was listed as having the highest number of food insecure people among the 21 states at 1,780,194.

The states listed are Yobe, Borno, Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto, Adamawa, Kano, Bauchi, Enugu, Niger, Kebbi, Zamfara, Jigawa, Gombe, Benue, Abia, Cross River, Edo, Lagos, Plateau, and Taraba.

The FAO Country Representative in Nigeria, Mr. Fred Kafeero, said current security challenges continue to threaten food and nutrition security. He then called for a holistic approach to transforming national food systems to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

As reported by The punchthe Cadre Harmonise further declared a persistent crisis and called for a conscious and intensive effort to maintain current humanitarian assistance and government intervention programs targeted at household recovery and livelihoods.

Commenting on the issue, agriculture sector experts urged the government to implement viable solutions to the food and nutrition security crisis in the short and long term.

An agriculture expert and managing director of X-Ray Farms Consulting and AF Marketing, Africanfarmer Mogaji, said the FAO prediction was a call to action for the government to pay attention to the possibility of a food crisis.

On what should be done, Mogaji urged the government to facilitate the commercial production of food products mainly consumed by citizens.

To achieve this, said Mogaji, “The government does not need to invest money but to create awareness of what is available in terms of land, dams, irrigation systems, seeds, among others, and their location for the benefit of cooperatives who understand the terrain and whose goal is to have an impact on their members and to make a profit.

He added that the war between Russia and Ukraine, with Ukraine being the largest producer of sunflower oil and the eighth largest producer of wheat, also presented a possible shortage.

The farmer added, “The definition of cash crop in Nigeria needs to change. Why? We have the land and sunflower oil grows in every state in Nigeria. Gombe State is still the largest producer. The government must therefore encourage people to take up the cultivation of sunflower oil, which is of global importance. In this way, people can cultivate cash crop. In the future, we then start processing the oil ourselves.

“The government needs to check what will be available on the global market. For corn, Russia produces 60% of world exports, Ukraine produces 10% of world exports and China imports 99% of its annual corn consumption from Ukraine.

“So the government should encourage us to grow maize here and facilitate the import of seeds. Most of those who would do well anywhere in Nigeria are foreigners. That people can produce in large volumes and then consider exporting to China, so that when the Chinese give us the loan and bring their people in, they would also have to buy something to take home in return.

Mogaji also said that to tackle the impending nutrition crisis, “we need to focus on the foods we have that can replace what we get from foreign sources. Nigeria has what we need if we maximize what we have. For example, there are different types of corn; there is quality protein corn which is high in protein and essential amino acids. So, if we can’t afford foreign foods, our children can eat high-protein corn with the essential amino acids needed by our body.

“Vitamin A maize production needs to be increased. We have to look at practical things, what wastes we can convert and once we do that, everything will be fine.

Mogaji called for closer collaboration between the Ministries of Water Resources, Agriculture and Youth and Development so that the land, water, agricultural tools and labor needed to boost the agricultural production are guaranteed. He said the Central Bank of Nigeria would then be needed to provide the necessary funding.

For his part, a Professor of Agricultural Economics, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Zakari Abdulsalam, said the food crisis would only create more difficulties which would consequently aggravate the current insecurity in the country.

Regarding the measures to be put in place to prevent a new food and nutrition crisis, Abdulsalam said: “In the short term, what could be done is to open the borders for the import of food. However, in the long term, we need to plan ahead ensuring that inputs are available to farmers. We have the potential to produce any crop in Nigeria, so we should not go hungry.

He added that the current war between Ukraine and Russia will affect the import of wheat and oil of which Ukraine and Russia are the main producers and exporters. “It’s going to have a personal effect on us and if the crisis continues, we’re going to have a problem,” he warned.

On the other hand, a professor of agricultural economics at Usmanu Danfodiyo University in Sokoto, Ahmed Ala, said the FAO prediction has only a 25-30% chance of coming true and may not have a huge impact on food production in the country.

He said that despite banditry in parts of the country, agricultural activities were still going on, adding that any drop in food production that might occur would be minimal.

He added: “When you visit rural markets, you see how full they are of all kinds of agricultural products. There is no doubt that there is food inflation, but this is attributed to economic circumstances like the devaluation of the naira, which has affected commodity prices.

“Another problem is the Russian-Ukrainian war, given the increase in the price of (crude) oil because Ukraine and especially Russia are the main producers of oil in the world and they sell on the Thus, the war between them would affect the level of oil production in the world market and consequently drive up the price of oil.

He added that the prices of other commodities and transport would have an impact on food prices.

He said: “We have to start thinking about how we can improve our production, in terms of using modern farming tools. We have come a long way. We have tillers that farmers can use, instead of engaging in manual cultivation of their land. We also need to do something about fertilizers; it becomes very expensive and farmers could not afford it”. ,,

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