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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Nigeria’s food security: A national emergency and way forward

Nigeria’s current state of food security is a cause for concern as the country grapples with numerous challenges that have led to a state of emergency. The primary factors contributing to this crisis include climate change, insecurity, economic instability, and poor agricultural practices.

Food security
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Climate change has disrupted agricultural patterns and reduced crop yields in many regions of the country. This has resulted in food shortages and increased food prices. Droughts, floods, and other extreme weather events have become more frequent, making it increasingly difficult for farmers to grow and harvest crops.

Insecurity is another significant factor affecting food security in Nigeria. Armed conflicts, particularly in the country’s northeastern part, have displaced communities and disrupted agricultural activities. Farmers have been forced to flee their fields, leave crops to rot, or abandon farming due to safety concerns. This has had a detrimental impact on food production, particularly in areas heavily reliant on agriculture.

Economic instability and rising inflation have further exacerbated the food security crisis. The high cost of inputs, such as fertiliser and seeds, as well as transportation costs, have made it challenging for farmers to afford necessary farming materials. Additionally, the depreciation of the Nigerian currency has increased the prices of imported food items, putting a strain on the purchasing power of many Nigerians.

Another factor contributing to the state of emergency on food security is the poor agricultural practices employed in the country. Inadequate access to modern farming techniques, low adoption of improved varieties of crops, and limited access to credit and markets hinder the productivity and profitability of smallholder farmers. This results in low crop yields, contributing to the overall food shortage.

To address this emergency, urgent action is necessary. The government, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, should implement the following measures:

  1. Increase investment in agriculture: The government should prioritise budgetary allocations towards agriculture and provide incentives to attract private sector investments in the sector. This will help improve agricultural productivity and ensure food security.
  2. Improve irrigation infrastructure: Given the impact of climate change on rainfall patterns, investing in irrigation infrastructure can help mitigate the effects of droughts and ensure consistent crop production.
  3. Enhance agricultural extension services: Farmers need access to up-to-date information and training on modern farming techniques, crop varieties, and pest management. Strengthened agricultural extension services can provide farmers with the necessary knowledge and skills to improve their productivity.
  4. Promote climate-smart agriculture: Encouraging the adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices, such as conservation agriculture, agroforestry, and integrated crop-livestock systems, can help farmers adapt to changing climatic conditions, increase resilience, and improve food production.
  5. Improve access to credit and markets: Smallholder farmers should have access to affordable credit and well-functioning markets. This will enable them to invest in modern farming inputs, expand their operations, and access competitive prices for their produce.
  6. Enhance security: The government needs to prioritise national security and establish a safe environment for farmers to operate. Security forces should be deployed strategically to protect farming communities and their agricultural activities.
  7. Strengthen collaboration with international partners: Collaboration with international organisations and development partners can provide technical assistance, financial support, and knowledge-sharing opportunities to boost Nigeria’s agricultural sector.

Addressing the state of emergency on food security in Nigeria requires a multi-faceted approach that tackles the root causes of the crisis. By implementing the suggested measures and fostering a conducive environment for agricultural development, Nigeria has the potential to achieve food security and alleviate the suffering caused by food shortages.

By Olumide Idowu and Shittu Ismaila

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