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Farmers, stakeholders differ on food crisis prediction



Unless frantic efforts are taken by the Federal Government and other stakeholders in the Agric sector to forestall the imminent food crisis this year, as predicted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), its outcome might further add to the situation, which is already dire.

The report, released late last year, projected that about 4.8 million Nigerians may face critical food insecurity in 16 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The states are: Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, Zamfara, and the FCT.

The report was put together by FAO, the World Food Programme (WFP), the National Programme for Food Security (NPFS) and other donor agencies.

FAO’s Country Representative, Sufyyan Koroma, who disclosed this said it became necessary to provide reliable data on food security status in the affected states to assist government to take necessary steps to address an emergency situation in the country.

Instead of abating, the recent herdsmen/farmers crisis appears to have aggravated the matter with the high level of destruction of farms and killing of farmers, especially in the North, middle belt and other crisis prone areas.

Though the actual data of casualties and farmlands destroyed is still sketchy, a report from the Benue State government revealed that over 1,500 farmers, including policemen and soldiers have been killed.

The state’s Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Lawrence Onoja (Jnr) who stated this in Makurdi, said the victims were killed within four years particularly between 2013 and 2017 in Agatu, Guma, Kwande, Katsina-Ala, Logo, Ogbadibo, Gwer West, Makurdi, Buruku, Gwer East and Ohimini local council areas of the state.

During the week, the President of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Babatunde Ruwase disclosed during the Chamber’s “Security meets Business” Dialogue session, that food security is at risk as agricultural production is threatened by security concerns, coupled with food inflation hovering at 20 per cent against 12 per cent for core inflation.

He said an estimated N200b planned investment in agro-allied industry has been put on hold in the country due to insecurity across several sections of the country.
Ruwase noted that there was no better time to consider the business dimension of the security challenge than now, adding that no meaningful business can be done in an environment that is insecure.

“Security of life and property is a very critical factor in the investment environment, and a major consideration in investment decisions. The impact of these security challenges on business and investors confidence is phenomenal. Not much investment activities are taking place in the Northeastern part of the country.
“Attacks by herdsmen on farming communities across the country is not abating, resulting in increasing loss of lives. Many rural farmers are holding back from the current planting season because of the fear of attacks by herdsmen. Agricultural activities are being negatively impacted. Already food inflation is at 20 per cent as against 12 per cent for core inflation,” he said.

In his submission, the President, Association of Yam Farmers, Processors and Marketers, Prof. Simon Irtwange, who rued the development, identified the country’s rising population, unavailability of farmlands and other factors as responsible for the looming food insecurity.

He is however, optimistic that with series of efforts put in place by the Federal Government, coupled with various military interventions in crisis prone areas, the impending food crisis would be put under control.

“By next April the planting season would commence, I am sure that all efforts would be geared towards ensuring that farmers put in their best to make food available for Nigerians.”

But the National Secretary, Tomato Growers Association of Nigeria, Sani Danladi, who disagreed with earlier submissions, described the prediction as mere exaggeration. He said if the country did not witness food crisis between 2014 and 2015 when there was drought, food scarcity should not be expected this year.

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