Nigeria: Tackling Food Insecurity Amid Economic Turbulence By Olawale Rotimi Opeyemi 

Despite millions of cultivatable land, good rainfall, sun light and weather, high population strength and millions of dollar voted to various agricultural schemes in Nigeria over the years, food insecurity remains a major battle to win. The discovery of oil led to a dramatic shift from agriculture in Nigeria; agricultural productivity dropped significantly following oil boom during the 80s into 90s, Nigeria that formerly exported palm oil among other agricultural products to other continents started relying on importation of food items she can produce.

Though global food commodity prices rose 4.2 per cent in June, their steepest monthly increase of the past four years according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, political instability, insecurity, speedily growing population, flooding and drought, rural-urban migration, lack of funding for farmers, economic instability, ethnic and religious rivalry are some causes of food insecurity in Nigeria. However, agriculture if done right can provide food for all Nigerians, create decent jobs and incomes while ensuring rural development and environmental preservation.

Globally, of the one in nine people in the world today (795 million) who are undernourished, the vast majority of world’s hungry people live in developing countries where at least 12.9 percent is malnourished. While 23 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry in Africa alone, one in every two-child death in Nigeria is from malnutrition, with over 1, 219 children dying daily as reported by the Head of Nutrition at Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health. Food insecurity is a major cause of malnutrition.

As defined by the United Nations World Food Programme, people are considered food insecure when there is no “availability and adequate access at all times to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.” Following the definition, as reported by The Cable-a foremost Nigerian digital newspaper, a survey assessing the socio-economic state of Nigerian households conducted by Philips Consulting between May and June 2016 revealed that 51 percent of Nigeria’s 183million people (i.e. 93million Nigerians) lack access to adequate to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to maintain health and active life.

The survey conveyed the strong link between unemployment and food insecurity in Nigeria; about 40 percent of employed respondents in the survey had never experienced food insecurity compared to 20 percent of unemployed and 28 percent of self-employed respondents. Due to lack of financial inflow, unemployed people are more vulnerable to food insecurity; in recent months, following economic turbulence in Nigeria, high and rigorous foreign exchange process, many businesses are closing down while several others are laying off staffs in hundreds.

Unemployment in Nigeria has increased significantly, up from 10.4 percent in the last quarter of 2015, Nigeria’s unemployment rate stood at 12.1 percent at the end of 2016 first quarter, the highest since December 2009. The National Bureau Statistics reported that 518,000 Nigerians became unemployed within 3 months in 2016.

As Nigeria’s population grows exponentially with no sign of relent and the economy faced with more turbulence, millions of Nigerians are faced with serious food insecurity. The surge in cost of food items has made it more difficult for unemployed and underemployed Nigerians to access food needed for healthy living.

While the population keeps growing speedily and economic crisis remain prevalent, Nigeria must tackle food insecurity which can be described as ‘time bomb’ before it explodes. Aside the fact that people facing food insecurity may die of hunger and live in unhealthy condition, hunger may equally lead to anger-motivated vices in the society. Even though the government has major roles to play in this, over the years, indications show the need for strong and purposeful collaboration between the government and private sector in solving this major issue in the nearest future.

Since Nigerian land is cultivable and the nation has good farming population, investment in agricultural sector must be taken seriously in order to cut food importation and boost local production. Nigeria spends $11 billion on food importation annually, if invested into the nation’s agricultural sector; it will increase productivity and make food available to millions of Nigerians at lesser prices.

Thousands of Nigerian farmers are small holders; they are unable to increase production due to lack of access to finance, capacity building training and modern trends in farming. 500 million small farms worldwide provide up to 80 per cent of food consumed in a large part of the developing world. This implies that, increased investment in smallholder farmers will increase agricultural productivity in Nigeria. This chain is important to make adequate food supply available in local markets. Engaging women farmers is also key, giving them access to finance and training would reduce food insecurity in Nigeria drastically.

Apparently, with shrinking oil revenue which has weakened Nigeria’s economic strength, deliberate and purposeful investment in the agriculture sector offers key solutions for development, and it is primal for hunger and poverty eradication in the nation and beyond.

(Olawale Rotimi Opeyemi is a writer/journalist; he can be reached via +2348105508224 or olawalerotty@gmail.com)

 

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Malnourished Children, Adults In Bama Get Urgent Medical Treatment As FG Steps Up Food, Shelter Supplies To IDPs

Over 23, 000 bags of assorted food items and 2,155 bags of shelter supplies have been provided by different Federal Government agencies to Internally Displaced Camps (IDPs) in the North East as part of on-going initiatives at ameliorating the plight of IDPs in areas ravaged by insurgency.

Under the coordinated Federal intervention programme, both the Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE) and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), are leading the humanitarian aid with the distribution of 10, 300 bags of assorted grains and cereals towards the feeding of over 2 million persons scattered across the region

In the monthly Federal Intervention Report that shows the level of supplies in the month of July and compiled by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on the North East, Dr. Mariam Masha, PINE supplied over 10,300 bags of food items such as rice, millet, maize, guinea corn, salt, vegetable oil, beans, and noodles to Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Taraba, Gombe and Bauchi States.

Besides, NEMA also supplied Borno State with 13,200 bags of food items.

The report indicated that PINE through the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation distributed 2,155 assorted shelter materials in nine (9) different Local Government Areas of Borno State which includes Bama, Damboa, Bakacy, Dikwa, Monguno, Mafa, Jere, Banki and Gwoza.

The Federal Government according to the report responded swiftly to the reported case of malnutrition in Bama camp, as severely malnourished children and adults have been moved from Bama to Maiduguri for comprehensive medical treatment.

Government has also deployed medical teams from the Federal Ministry of Health and Nigerian Airforce to assist in support mission for nutrition emergency response to those in need.

In addition, the government of Borno state is converting Islamiya School in Bama to a hospital which will be equipped by the Nigeria Airforce to achieve quick comprehensive treatment of victims.

It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, in consolidating FG intervention in the North East ordered the establishment of the Presidential Committee on North East Interventions, PCNI. The Committee chaired by Gen. Theophilus Danjuma is responsible for rehabilitation, reconstruction and recovery of the North East.

Equally, Government has also constituted an Inter-ministerial Technical Working Group to facilitate an effective humanitarian assistance. The Group is to expedite waivers and technical assistance by donors providing humanitarian aid in North East.

Members of the Group include the Office of the Vice President, Office of the National Security Adviser, NEMA, Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Justice, Budget & National Planning, Finance, Nigeria Customs and Immigration.

The Federal Government continues to assess the need and develop effective ways of addressing them with the active collaboration of local, national and international agencies including the United Nations system. The Buhari presidency will neither relent nor leave any stone unturned in ensuring that our people in the North East are provided with the assistance, help and support needed to address the different fallouts and impact of the insurgency that has ravaged the region for years.

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Kano Commissioner for Women Affairs Presents Food Items to Less Privileged

Kano State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Barrister Zubaida Damakka Abubakar on Saturday, disbursed food items worth Millions of Naira to the less privileged women in Kano North Senatorial zone of the state.

The food items are part of the 1,000 cartons of Sphagetti, 1,000 cartons of macaroni, 300 bags of rice, 1,000 cartons of couscous, 1,000 bags of Semovita, 1,000 bags of wheat flour and 500 bags of sugar donated on Thursday, by the First Lady of the country, Mrs. Aisha Buhari to poor women in Kano, to aimed at alleviate their sufferings.

While presenting the food items to women leaders at Bichi, Barr. Zubaida Damakka Abubakar described the gesture as a remarkable one that deserves applause, noting that the First Lady has proved to Nigerian that she really cares about them and that this is the beginning of good things to come.

The Commissioner praised the first Lady for her humane disposition and called people of Kano to give to the Buhari administration the necessary support needed to move this country to a greater heights.

Barrister Zubaida stated the state government on its part is doing all it can to assist the poor in the state, as it has carried out similar humanitarian programs in recent times, like the daily offer of meals to the needy during the month of Ramadan as well as empowerment programmes for the widows, orphans and socially disadvantaged women.

She, therefore, enjoined beneficiaries of the food items donated by Mrs. Buhari to make good use of the items and to take advantage of the state government’s empowerment initiatives so as to lift themselves out of poverty.

The Commissioner announced a donation of N500, 000 to the women leaders from the 13 local government areas of Kano North Senatorial zone, to enable them transport the donated items to their respective local government areas.

On her part, the state Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Mrs. Aisha Muhammad Bello described the first Lady’s warm gesture as coming at the right time, considering the fact that some persons find it difficult to afford three square meals at the moment, due to financial difficulties.

Some of the beneficiaries expressed their happiness that despite her position, Mrs Aisha Buhari  has not forgotten them, stressing that the first Lady has really proven that she is a mother who is determined to wipe away the tears of her children.
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Troops Uncover Boko Haram’s Underground Food Storage

Nigerian troops fighting the extremist Boko Haram sect on Sunday announced that it had uncovered storage facility been used by the terrorist group to store food.

The Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Sani Usman, said in a statement that the storage contained large quantity of foodstuff when it was discovered.

Mr. Usman also said the troops also found that the terrorists were mounting sentries on tree tops to gather intelligence on the advancement of troops.

Read full statement below.

“On Saturday 16th April 2016, troops of 7 Division Strike Group Team B and 22 Task Force Brigade conducted a simultaneous dawn raid on suspected Boko Haram terrorists hideouts at Biggoro, Warpaya and Aura, North of Kumshe in Bama Local Government Area.

“The essence of the operation was stop the reported criminal activities of remnants of Boko Haram terrorists hiding in the three villages. This became necessary as previous efforts were futile. The suspected terrorists kept coming in search for food, water and shelter.

“The surprised dawn attack yielded positive result as the troops discovered well concealed observation posts on trees in the villages constructed by the terrorists to give them early warning of troops movement or approach.

Boko Haram's underground food storage uncovered
Boko Haram’s underground food storage uncovered

“In addition the troops found out that the observation posts though tree tops, were constructed in such a manner with chairs and ropes to pull up foods and other needs by the sentry without necessarily coming down the trees.

To also save for the rainy day, the terrorists had underground food storage facilities where they stocked large quantity of foodstuffs. The troops killed two Boko Haram terrorists and also recovered three AK-47 rifles, magazines and ammunitions. They also recovered two motorcycles from them. In addition they rescued two children from the terrorists.”

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Ex-CDS Alex Badeh Spends First Weekend In Kuje Prison, Rejects Prison Food

Immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, spent his first weekend with inmates of the Kuje Prisons because of his inability to fulfill the bail conditions slammed on him by a Federal High Court.

The ex-CDS, who was granted bail by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja last Thursday, following arraignment for alleged money laundering, could not immediately meet the bail conditions in order to leave the prison.

Among other conditions, he was to produce two sureties who could pay the sum of N1 billion each, have landed properties in the FCT and provide evidence of three years tax payment.

Badeh was also to deposit his traveling documents with the Registrar of the court, while the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission prosecuting him, is to ascertain full compliance with the stipulated conditions before the former air force chief could be allowed to go home, pending the commencement of full trial.

Prisons sources said last night that the former CDS was still with them, having been unable to perfect the bail conditions outlined by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

A senior prisons official confirmed also that Badeh had also refused to eat the food given to other inmates, preferring food from home.

The official said that the Nigerian Prisons Service allowed Badeh to eat the food brought by his close family members since it was optional to eat the prisons meal.

“It is the right of every prison inmate to decide whether to bring in their food or eat what is provided by the NPS. In this case, Badeh opted to eat his own food and we have no objection to that.”

‘’The only condition is that the person who brings the food for him, must first taste it before giving to him,” the official explained.

Badeh was remanded in prison custody on March 7 but admitted to bail on March 10 by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, following his arraignment along with a company, Iyalikam Nigeria Limited, on 10 counts of money laundering.

However, a lawyer to the former CDS, Mr. Samuel Zibiri (SAN), told a national newspaper that Badeh had secured the two sureties the court mandated him to produce, raising hope he could be released early this week.

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Tambuwal Sets Up C’tee For $250m Food Processing Factory

Sokoto Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, has set up a technical committee for the actualisation of the $250m food processing factory in the state.

The committee, according to a statement issued by the Governor’s spokesman, Malam Imam Imam, will work with the company setting up the project, Erisco Foods Ltd, to ensure its realisation early next year.

Speaking when he received the management team of Erisco Foods in his office in Sokoto, Tambuwal said Sokoto is open to business for all investors willing to invest in the state. He said his policy of looking for Nigerian investors will continue because the country has capable businessmen that will make necessary difference in key areas.

“Establishment of the agro-based company will bring about development of the agricultural sector and provide job opportunities for our people. On our part, we will provide necessary incentives to encourage both local and international investors that want to invest in the state.

“Today’s visit shows the resolve of the government to accelerate growth of the economy to improving the living standards of the citizens,” Tambuwal added.

The technical committee is to be headed by the former Deputy Governor of Sokoto, Chiso Dattijo. Other members include commissioners of commerce and industries, agriculture, environment and works, while Engineer Lawal Maidoki will serve as the Secretary.

In his remark Chairman of Erisco Foods, Chief Eric Umeofia, said apart from the food processing factory, his company is working with foreign partners to see to the possibility of setting up a tractor manufacturing company with the capacity to produce 30,000 tractors annually.

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Flood: Sokoto To Rely On Dry Season Farming To Avoid Food Shortage

Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State said the state government will engage in massive dry season farming in order to tackle food shortage and mitigate the effect of this year’s flood which destroyed farmlands in different parts of the state.
As part of measure to actualise the plan, the state government said it will distribute assorted fertilizers and other farm implements fro dry season farming so as to encourage them to engage in irrigation farming.

A statement issued by his spokesman, Imam Imam in Sokoto on Saturday said that Tambuwal disclosed this when he received the members of some farmers’ groups who visited him.

According to the governor, “the state government will in this direction purchase assorted fertlizers and sell same to the farmers at? highly subsidized prices.

“We will also buy other agricultural inputs and implements that will be distributed to our farmers.? The state government will also sustain its gesture of buying
improved seeds and seedlings, pesticides and herbicides, among others,” he promised.

Tambuwal further explained that his administration will sink adequate tube-wells for the farmers, construct more earth dam and water silos to conserve water for the farmers.

“This proactive action is aimed at supplementing for these huge? losses to avert food shortages this year and beyond,” he added. 

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Food Security and Poverty Eradication in Africa: Interplay by Olawale Rotimi

A hungry nation is an angry nation; the issue of food security has been a major challenge in Africa; a policy brief by Jason Bremner reveals that “nearly 240 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, or one person in every four, lack adequate food for a healthy and active life, and record food prices and drought are pushing more people into poverty and hunger. At the same time, the world’s population has now surpassed 7 billion, in this case Africa’s population has risen, 50 million will be added to sub-Saharan Africa population in the next 17 years, and by 2050, projection shows that Africa’s population double i.e. 2billion. The question that comes with this projection is, how does Africa plan to feed its escalating population?

Food insecurity is not alien to Africa, over the decades, millions of African children and women have died of hunger, the struggle to feed has given birth to increasing number of domestic robbery, reduction in economic productivity among others. A well fed nation is a healthy nation, and a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. The issue of food security cannot be disconnected from economic backgrounds, in agreement with Jason’s report, food security exists when all people at all times have both physical and economic access to sufficient food to meet their dietary needs for a productive and healthy life. Thus, achieving food security implies that sufficient quantities of appropriate foods are consistently available, individuals have adequate incomes or other resources to purchase or barter for food, food is properly processed and stored, individuals have sound knowledge of nutrition and child care that they put to good use, and have access to adequate health and sanitation services.

Assessing the above mentioned yardsticks that determine food security, statistics justify that Africa is lagging behind. First, economic access to nutritious food in Africa remains a goal yet to be attained. In spite of the fact that Africa is a farming continent, the prices of food items do not mirror the agricultural strength of the continent. The fact that Africa is an agrarian continent is enough reason to make enough food available for the populace, but interestingly Africa still imports some crops it produces because its production does not meet the demand of its people. Furthermore, nutritional knowledge is low in Africa, particularly in rural areas. Food security is at the top of the list of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with the goal of eradicating poverty and hunger, even though efforts are been made to attain food security in the continent, achieving food security remains a herculean task in the continent.

Drought and other extreme weather events, pests, livestock diseases and other agricultural problems, climate change, military conflicts, lack of emergency plans, corruption and political instability, cash crops dependence, and rapid population growth have been highlighted as causes of food insecurity. In the case of Africa, corruption and political instability, cash crop dependence and rapid population growth are more prevalent factors aiding food insecurity in Africa. Agriculture is the only wealth a nation/continent can call its own. Africa needs to address the issues of corruption and instability in agricultural loans for small and large scale farming in order to cater for its growing population. Food security cannot be disconnected from poverty eradication, if Africa is unable to attain the former, the latter will equally remain unattainable. More investments have to be made in the agricultural sector to increase production and make food items more available to the populace. A hungry continent is an angry continent, food security will not only eradicate poverty but will reduce crime, reduce mortality rate and increase economic productivity.

Olawale Rotimi is the editor of The AGES Socio-Political Magazine and the Special Assistant on Media to Barrister Razak Atunwa, Member of House of Representatives.

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Drought in Northern Nigeria and Stability of Food Prices in Nigeria in 2015

Drought is generally referred to as a delay in the onset of rain or its conditions. Technically, drought is an extended period when a region receives a deficiency in its water supply whether atmospheric, surface or ground water (Wikipedia 2015).

Experts have argued that although droughts can persist for several years, even a short intense drought can cause significant damage. A drought may occur for a myriad of reasons, however a common factor which causes drought is a consistently below average precipitation or rainfall.

Over the years a consistent shift in the climatic and weather conditions in Nigeria and particularly northern Nigeria has become noticeable. This may be attributed to the general change in the global climatic conditions as a result of global warming. For instance, the onset of the rainy season on the average is often expected to commence in Northern Nigeria between late March and April, but the current weather conditions shows a deviation from this trend particularly in 2015.

The implication of this on the general price stability and even availability of food/agricultural products in the entire country can be predicted. This is consequent upon the fact that the geographical Northern region of Nigeria to a large extent is the ecological zone were vegetable crops such as tomatoes, pepper, spinach, carrots and others are grown. Cereals/grains such as maize, rice, beans, sorghum and others are also exensively cultivated within this ecological zone.

The type of agriculture practised in this zone is still to a large extent rain fed or rain dependent. Hence it is important for policy makers to take note of the positive corelation between annual rainfall and annual crop yield within this ecological zone.

Its trite to repeat that most of the crops within this zone constitute the staple diet for most Nigerians. Hence as the year progresses, it might not be unusual to begin to notice a mismatch between crop (food) demand and crop (food) supply in the country as a result of the current drought conditions being faced. This in the long run is expected to lead to an increase in prices of food stuffs because the supply might not match or meet the demand for food stuffs.

This emerging or anticipated scenario calls for a concerted, integrated and proactive approach on the part of policy makers in this important sector. Because as we know, food is indeed a strategic issue
of national interest.

Babs Iwalewa
@babsiwalewa (twitter)

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Man Supplying Boko Haram Fuel, Food Nabbed; 260 Women and Children Fleeing From Terrorists Recovered In Adamawa

A man who specialises in supplying fuel and food to terrorists was this morning nabbed in Daban Shata in the suburbs of Baga Borno State. The military intelligence had been trailing him till he was eventually trapped in the early hours of Sunday. He is presently undergoing interrogation.

In another development, troops on patrol yesterday located 260 women and children in the outskirts of Chalawa village in Adamawa state where they had been held up while trying to escape from terrorists. They have now been conveyed back to their various communities in Madagali after undergoing the normal security profiling.

Some of them disclosed that they had to abandon their homes to escape from the terrorists when Madagali came under their attack, while others were actually abducted and taken there. The terrorists were however sacked from the Madagali recently.

A number of terrorists however died in an encounter with troops who caught up with them as they fled prior to the recovery of the women and children. Some of the terrorists still managed to escape with varying degrees of gunshot wounds. Others who were captured are now being interrogated by intelligence officers.

A machine gun, some rounds of ammunition, as well as some motorcycles and bicycles were also captured from the terrorists. A member of the vigilante group serving as guide to the troops was however wounded.

Meanwhile the operation in Sambisa forest is continuing as troops are methodically searching every aspect of the expansive terrain. __during_one_of_the_attack_in_sambisa__forest2

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