Hunger and malnutrition is no alien word to Africa’s wealthiest and most populous nation. It is yet a marvel that Nigeria, Africa’s most affluent has half its population living below the poverty line. Action Against Hunger reveals that Nigeria is the third country in the world with the highest level of chronic malnutrition among children.
9 out of 10 Nigerians cannot afford a healthy diet. Despite the country’s fertile ground, arable for agriculture, Nigeria cannot save its people from hunger. Our sufferings can be traced to no other but ourselves, it is definitely the result of our doings.
The food security challenge in Nigeria is a deplorable state worsened by the covid-19 pandemic and frequent insecurity resulting from Kidnapping and banditry most especially in the northeast. Utmost priority is given to the oil industry despite its irregularities over the years.
Agriculture is rather brought to light occasionally, possibly when a new policy is about to be adopted or when flood ravages most of the farmer’s crops. The urgency of the situation trends until a little is being done, and then it is swept under the carpet. The country’s preference for mediocrity in this sector continues to worsen the poverty state of the country.
Borno, Jigawa, and Yobe are the three states largely hit by the insecurity crisis in the country. According to Action Against Hunger, 7.9 million people from a total population of 13 million needed humanitarian assistance in 2020. This reveals an increase of 11% from 2019. Food insecure Nigerians have risen to 3.8 million while women in need of urgent nutrition service or treatment for malnutrition are about 1.1 million.
Banditry and kidnapping have become a weekly routine in the Northern states, yet nothing substantial is being done to address the recurring challenges. It is rather matters on the 2023 presidential election that seems to be of priority at an urgent time where the country is in a state of emergency. Nigeria is hanging on a very loose thread and we are our only saviors.
Agricultural activities suffer disruption in the North East and middle belt at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, these are the regions where a majority of the food consumed in Nigeria is produced. If definite and consistent actions are not made sooner, Nigeria will be left with no option but to rely on importation for all consumption in the country. This would also mean a huge economic downturn as exportation is already at an all-time high.
In order to address the problems, Nigeria must recognize the primary causes and deal with them accordingly. The government as a matter of urgency needs to resolve banditry and kidnapping in the northeast. There will continue to be a rise in the number of people suffering from hunger and malnutrition if this is not addressed.
For how long will farmers be afraid of leaving their homes? Agriculture has been unstable for too long in the northeast region. Sooner than later, everyone would be made to feel the heat. Food insecurity is an urgent situation that can’t be left for later.
Also, the Federal allocation for agriculture and rural development is less than 3%. This is relatively inadequate to sustain the sector. The presidency has expressed his desire for the nation to attain food sufficiency. This can only be made possible if the allocation of the national budget for agriculture is increased to at least 10 or 12%.
Furthermore, policies are disrupted with the change of leadership engendering inconsistencies in agricultural activities. The government must address policy sustainability. Policies should not be interrupted by the change of leadership. This is the primary means to boost continuity that can help nurture policies until they begin to yield sufficient profit.
Manual farming is above 90% while just a meager 3% are into mechanized farming. The outdated means of farming have contributed to hunger and malnutrition in the country. The agricultural yields can hardly sustain half the population. The country must adopt the new and modern way of agriculture by incorporating technology. This will help sustain agriculture on a wider scale. The sector needs more hands.
There are millions of unemployed youths in Nigeria. The government’s investment in this sector can attract more people to be a part of agricultural policies. The land is good, in the same vein, we are to make policies that would yield the good of the land.