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‘How insecurity will escalate food crisis in 2023’

By Femi Ibirogba
16 May 2022   |   2:49 am
There are indications that food shortage and inflation will worsen in 2023 following relentless attacks in most of the states where food grains are cultivated in commercial quantities.

Foodstuff seller PHOTO:SUNDAY AKINLOLU

AFAN advises northern states to be proactive

There are indications that food shortage and inflation will worsen in 2023 following relentless attacks in most of the states where food grains are cultivated in commercial quantities.

Kaduna State is rated as the largest producer of maize, a crop in high demand for direct human consumption, industrial food processing and animal feeds. But the state has witnessed an unprecedented number of daring bandit attacks in the last few years, peaking with the mind-boggling attacks on the Kaduna International Airport and the ill-fated Abuja-Kaduna train in March.

Again, the country depends significantly on rain-fed agriculture but the emergence of rainfall provides green covers for most dreadful herders, bandits and other criminal elements.

Also, the build-up to the 2023 general election is already ruffling feathers, and with this comes the anxiety that the widespread insecurity would be fuelled by politicking and would in turn aggravate the state of food production, food scarcity and inflation as practically most farming communities are either displaced or unable to access their farmland.

Pockets of clashes between herders and farmers, especially in Benue, Plateau, Nassarawa and other states, apart from Kaduna as the main theatre of banditry, has already displaced thousands of farming households, apart from those displaced, maimed and killed in the north-east zone

According to www.internal-displacement.org, “In the past year, the violence in the north-central and north-west regions left 586,000 people internally displaced, many of whom were newly displaced in 2020. Nigeria is also highly exposed to natural hazards and is affected by a number of disasters that trigger displacement each year.”

Vice President of the Catfish and Allied Fish Farmers Association of Nigeria (CAFFAN), North-West Zone, Comrade Salihu Abubakar, said insecurity had gone beyond the northern part of the country to other parts, causing damage to food production and legitimate businesses.

He said: “This is a problem we face not only in the Northern part of the country but all over Nigeria. Since we start facing the problem of banditry in the north, 65 per cent of most farmers can’t go to their farms due to insecurity.”

Abubakar said the government should do something about insecurity so, that farmers can produce enough produce to feed the growing population and avert the addition of hunger to the widespread poverty.

Former National President, All Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Kabir Ibrahim, in a statement entitled ‘Insecurity is the foremost threat factor to the attainment of food security in Nigeria: the state governments in the north should work jointly and collectively to ensure restoration of normalcy or the whole country will go hungry,” said it had been nearly 15 years since Boko Haram began in the North-East zone as a religious movement and later snowballed into a full-scale terrorist group.

He said a lot of effort, mainly through kinetic means, had been deployed to stem the activities of the group but with marginal success.
 
He said in other parts of the north, especially, the North-West and North-Central zones, where most of the agricultural production takes place, banditry and kidnappings are so rampant that the farmers are discouraged from readily accessing their farms.

Kabir said: “This has resulted in a reduction of sustainable food sufficiency, thereby impeding the attainment of food security in spite of the several intervention programmes, such as the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, NALDA’s integrated farm settlements, FMARDA’s efforts and several other programmes by the Buhari administration.”

He explained that agriculture essentially takes place at the state level and is on the concurrent list with the Federal Government spearheading the creation of an enabling environment through policy direction and encouraging stakeholders’ buy-in.

Hence, he called on states to play very important roles in bringing about food security to Nigeria and admitted that this is attainable if the security of life and property is guaranteed at the state level.

He suggested that “All efforts by all the state governments in the north to stem insecurity should coalesce under one umbrella to be called Northern Nigeria Security Initiative (NNSI) under the chairmanship of the chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum, assisted by a team headed by a Director-General, who knows what to do.”

Also, part of the measures, according to him, is that each of the 19 states in the north should contribute N1 billion only sustainably to a common pool.

He suggested that a critical mass of 2,000 youths be recruited as part of a ‘vigilante group’ and paid an honorarium of N20,000 monthly from each of the 19 Northern states to keep the peace among their recalcitrant peers.

Kabir added that “NDLEA should partner with each of the 19 state governments and FCT to proactively fight drug use and trafficking by impounding and destroying identified drug peddling enclaves or dens of drug dealers as well as abusers.”

Besides, he said all the forests, which bandits and marauders occupy should be combed, defoliated and in some cases, bulldozed as well as immediately converted into cultivable and irrigable land.

“These suggestions and many more should be promptly pursued to mitigate the current tide of insecurity before the exit of the Buhari-led administration to avert the total collapse of our food system and the whole country, God forbid,” he said.

A tractor-hiring service provider in Niger State, David Ayodele, disclosed to The Guardian that most of his clients had abandoned large-scale farm operations as insecurity takes the centre stage in the state.

This, he said, would deplete the volume of food that would be available to Nigerians in 2023, and might cause food inflation.

He suggested that farming activities should be intensified and supported in states that are relatively more peaceful across the country as the planting season begins.