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Nigeria's poor ranking in global food affordability – Daily Sun

Food insecurity has become a clear and present danger in Nigeria. In a new report, a United Kingdom-based think tank, the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), placed Nigeria as the second poorest country in food affordability in the world. According to the report, Syria is the number one country where basic food is least affordable. Other countries that are in the same league with Syria and Nigeria are Ethiopia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Indonesia, Algeria, Iran and Uzbekistan. 
The report is a grim picture of what Nigeria is facing today. In the 2020 Global Hunger Index, Nigeria was among the top 10 hunger-ravaged countries in the world.  With soaring prices of food items, many citizens cannot afford to provide enough food for their families. Unfortunately, prices of basic food items such as rice, beans and garri have increased by over 100 per cent. In the North East region, where insurgency has taken a heavy toll on the population, millions of people go to bed every day without food. Experts estimate that about 4.4 million people in that region are threatened by the looming food insecurity. The worst hunger-hit states in that region are Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
Poverty is a major contributor to rising hunger. In 2018, Nigeria took over from India as the poverty capital of the world. Recently, the World Bank, in a report, said inflation pushed about seven million Nigerians into poverty in 2020. Earlier this year, the global lender expressed worry that 15 to 20 million more Nigerians would join the poverty rank by 2022. 
This situation is scary as the disposable income of many Nigerians has grossly depreciated. Many states cannot pay the minimum wage to their workers. Inflation has drastically reduced the value of workers’ monthly salary. While efforts were being made to tackle this problem, COVID-19 pandemic surfaced. There was total lockdown much of last year. This hindered movement of goods and services, including food production and transportation across the country.
There is also the problem of insecurity. Currently, the major food baskets of the country are battlefields of some sort. In a state like Benue, herdsmen often invade farmlands with their cows, destroy crops and kill the farm owners in some cases. Late last year, Boko Haram terrorists invaded farmlands in a village in Borno State and massacred over 67 farmers. In many other parts of the North, activities of bandits and terrorists have scared farmers out of their farms. 
In some other parts of the country, criminals rob and terrorise innocent citizens. They kidnap travellers and school children at will for ransom. In Lagos, traffic robbers have become a major menace to motorists and other road users. The rise in insecurity can also be traced to hunger. It is important to note that food is one of the three basic necessities of man. Eating good and balanced diet gives one the necessary nutrients that help to prevent and fight certain illnesses. Without it, diseases and deaths become rampant.
President Muhammadu Buhari promised to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by 2030. In June this year, he claimed his government lifted farmers, artisans, market women and small-scale traders out of poverty. Also in June, he inaugurated the National Steering Committee of the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
In addition, a total of 5.4 million farmers were enumerated to get support under the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) earlier in the year. The Presidency also revealed that the clearing of the 3,200 hectares of land for farming was ongoing in several states and that rural road constructions had reached about 28 per cent completion. 
No doubt, the government has tried, but containing food insecurity requires much more than what it has done. The most important step is to tackle insecurity generally because without it, every other effort will be in vain. The nation’s security agencies are doing their best, but they need to put measures in place to adequately protect farmers. They should also smoke out bandits from their hideouts in the forests and deal with them decisively.
Farmers, on their part, should do away with seasonal farming and crude farm implements.  This is the time for them to embrace mechanised and all-seasons farming. We call on the three tiers of government to take agriculture seriously. Let them consider giving incentives and subventions to local farmers to enable them procure fertilizers and other farm inputs. Apart from increasing the budgetary allocation for agriculture, the government should also try as much as possible to reduce inflation, stimulate job creation and facilitate access to financing for small and medium enterprises, especially in the agric sector. We enjoin the government to invest in biotechnology and encourage seed companies to produce and supply genetically engineered seeds that will improve crop yields.    

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© 2019 The Sun Nigeria – Managed by Netsera.
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