• Sunday, June 16, 2024
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Food insecurity to grip 31 million Nigerians by August, FG touts farmers’ training as solution

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The federal government has acknowledged a dire food security situation with an estimated 31 million people facing a food and nutrition crisis by August 2024.

The revelation came during a presentation by Wale Edun, the minister of finance and coordinating minister of the economy on an Accelerated Stabilisation and Advancement Plan (ASAP), designed to address key challenges affecting the reform initiatives and stimulate development in various sectors of the economy.

“Thirty-one million people are projected to be food insecure by August 2024,” a draft copy of the ASAP presented by Edun said.

Food prices have been on an upward trend over the past few years. With each passing year, Nigerians spend more of their disposable income on food.

According to The National Bureau of Statistics, food accounts for 56.65 percent of Nigeria’s total household expenditure.

Recent food Inflation Report by NBS revealed that the food inflation rate in April 2024 was 40.53 percent, the highest since 1996.

Read also: Food inflation surges 59% in low, middle-income countries – World Bank

Over the past few years, farmers across Nigeria have faced a common enemy — insecurity. It has been from farm to farm for many farmers as kidnapping and insecurity have affected farming activities in Nigeria. Several farmers have abandoned their farmlands, which has reduced the nation’s food supply and resulted in food inflation.

The average price of rice, garri and tomatoes rose 141 percent in one year, the highest yearly increase for the period, according to the April Selected Food Price report.

The data shows that the average price of rice rose 156 percent to N1,399 in 2024 from N547 in the same period of 2023.

Also, the average price of garri – a major consumed staple by low and middle income surged 135 per cent from N363 in April 2023 to N852 in the corresponding period in 2024.

In 2023, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) also warned that 25 million Nigerians are at risk of hunger. The press release listed insecurity as one of the key drivers of food insecurity.

The minister said the government intends to improve food security by training farmers to adopt climate-smart techniques, auditing National Seed System, providing inputs to farmers using an e-wallet system, and improving fertiliser use to 25kg/hectare.

It also intends to increase capacity development for tractor operators, farmers and service providers and open up 30,000 hectares of new irrigatable land for dry-season farming alongside other interventions listed in the report.