A report by The Guardian indicates that the food crisis is spreading like wildfire across the country, forcing many into begging for alms to have a meal.
According to the report, stakeholders have urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration to arrest the situation before it degenerates quickly.
Although climate change issues have impacted food production globally, years of neglect of the agricultural sector and over-reliance on imported food items have worsened Nigeria’s situation more so in the face of the raging foreign exchange crisis that saw the naira exchange for the dollar at the parallel market between 1,005/$ and 1,025/$ as at last Tuesday.
The situation has seen the standard of living of Nigerians plummet, with many opting to migrate in search of greener pastures, now known locally as japa syndrome, while those still chiselling life out in the country keep wondering if the government is aware of their conditions.
A few months ago, a joint report issued by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) revealed that over 24.8 million Nigerians will be at risk of acute food insecurity between June and August.
“In Nigeria, acute food insecurity is expected to deteriorate in the outlook period, driven by the multidimensional security crisis, together with weak macroeconomic conditions and multiple natural hazards.
“Over 24.8 million people are projected to be acutely food insecure between June and August 2023, including 1.1 million people in emergency (CH Phase 4,” the report said.
The projection seems to have been exceeded, especially in the aftermath of the fuel subsidy removal and other policies of the Tinubu administration that have pushed up the country’s headline inflation to 25.80 per cent in August this year.
A World Bank report on food security issued last June stated that about 64 million Nigerians were at risk of an emergency food crisis owing to the attendant effects of rising inflation, insecurity and climate change, among others.
According to the report, “107.5 million people are considered to be at risk of falling into food crisis in the event of shocks from June through August 2023, particularly in Nigeria (64 million), Niger Republic (7.3 million) and Burkina Faso (5.1 million).”
The Global Hunger Index report released last year ranked Nigeria 103 out of 121 countries, which signifies the seriousness of the nation’s hunger level.
The report, which ranks countries by severity, gave Nigeria a score of 27.3 – a hunger level falling under the severe category.
A farmer and founder of Menitos Farm Depot, Lagos, Toluwalope Daramola, who expressed grief over the development, said the food crisis is seriously affecting Nigerians, especially low-income earners and the vulnerable, who could no longer afford the high cost of foodstuff and other agro commodities.
“Like it or not, many people might die of hunger if there is no urgent intervention to ameliorate the suffering of the people. Many people survived the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, but might die of hunger before food finds them. To eat at this present time is war. I mean practically, everything is on the high side, and we have a very terrible situation on the ground,” she said.
A carpenter, Alao Kazeem, who lamented the level of hardship in the country, said: “There is no doubt that there is hunger in the land. I don’t know how many of us will survive this period.
“Prices of foodstuffs and other commodities have practically gone beyond our reach, and we don’t even have any money to buy them. Stimulus packages promised by the government have not reached us despite the noise. This is a very terrible situation.
“Why is every situation an opportunity to exploit the people? Where is the compassion and pity in us? Our leaders don’t care. People in government don’t believe anyone is suffering; they don’t believe there is hunger in the land. They always have the belief that all Nigerians are enjoying themselves.”
The Chief Executive Officer of Green Sahara Farms, Plateau State, Suleiman Dikwa, urged the Federal Government and other players in the food sector to rethink and adopt a fresh approach to ensure food security.
While linking the challenge to the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine/Russia war, Dikwa noted that climate change has a dual effect on rural farmers as it denies them economic returns amid the environmental issues associated with it.
Dikwa, who said that food insecurity is a global issue as the climate devastation worldwide would affect the yields from the farms, noted that the major role a government could play was to offer palliatives.
“We need to develop short, medium and long-term solutions. By comparison, Nigeria has not done badly in managing inflation, but our cry is that we know we can have a better economy. The issue is beyond the farmer but a global economic issue that cuts across sectors,” he added.