Sustained Food Security Challenges Mar Nigerians’ Hope

by ketobasereviews

For the nation’s agric sector, it has been lamentations for Nigerians, since the present administration of President Bola Tinubu assumed power on May 29, 2023. However, to be fair to the administration, the sector was already at crossroads for sometime now.

The only difference is the current administration’s reform policies worsening the already bad situations. Indeed, this is the reason all the policies being rolled out by the Tinubu-led administration are yet to be positive.

Price spike persistence

One major event that heralded the period under review is the mind blowing reports by the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) that the removal of fuel subsidy, floating exchange rate, coupled with insecurity have impacted badly on the sector.

Specifically, AFAN blamed subsidy removal as being responsible for increased the cost of transporting farm produce, while insecurity has remained a problem for the farmers.

Indeed, the farmers’ association also urged Nigerians to brace for more price hikes, noting that the food crisis may continue till August. In recent times, Nigerians have been voicing their concerns over the hike in the prices of food.

Of recent, the high cost in tomato, pepper and other perishable food produce has become a major crisis in the country as price of the ingredients has risen by over 800 per cent.

Specifically, the Chairman of Mile 12 International Market in Lagos State, Shehu Usman Jubrin, said insecurity was responsible for the high cost of tomato, pepper, and other perishable items in the country.

Recall that the price of pepper had also jumped, raising concerns among Nigerians. A small basket of tomatoes now sells for about N35,000 at the market. Speaking on the development, Jubrin said:

“The bone of contention, the real fact is just insecurity. Let me tell you, that’s the truth. And there’s absolutely nothing the country will do. “This price hike will continue.They are still buying tomato, at the rate of N1,000 for three pieces.

Inflation

In the quarter under review, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) reported that Nigeria’s inflation rate rose to 33.95 per cent in May.

However, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), Dr. Muda Yusuf, stated that the private sector operators were concerned that inflation still persisted in the Nigerian economy despite some policy measures to tame it, especially on the monetary side.

Yusuf explained that the purchasing power had contnued to slump over the past few months, adding that the situation had been further exercebated by price volatility experienced in many sectors.

High cost of inputs

Indeed in the second quarter of 2024, the issue of high agric cost came under the radar with the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO)’s Biannual Report on Global Food Markets, showing that Nigeria’s rice production outlook was hampered by hikes in input costs and difficulties marketing produce as a result of reductions in milling operations caused by high energy costs.

Precisely, the FAO report recorded expansion in Africa’s production of rice. The report highlighted that while Africa is set for its third consecutive produc – tion increase, with an estimated 28.4 million tonnes of rice forecast for 2024/25—a four per cent year-on-year rise and a record high—Nigeria’s prospects were dampened.

The country is grappling with escalating input and energy costs, which are hindering milling operations and compli – cating the marketing of produce. The FAO report noted that global supplies of most major food commodities are expected to be adequate in 2024/25.

However, extreme weather, geopolitical tensions, sudden policy changes, and other factors could disrupt the global demandsupply balance, impacting prices and food security.

World outputs of rice and oilseeds are projected to reach record levels, while wheat and maize outputs are expected to decline slightly.

IFAD’s findings

Also in the second quarter, the Country Director of the International Fund for Ag – ricultural Development (IFAD), Mrs. Dede Ekoue, highlighted notable successes and challenges in Nigeria’s agriculture sector.

She attributed improvements in productivity, production, and income to the commitment of local communities and support from state governments. In an interview with New Telegraph, the Country Director shed light on both the significant strides and challenges facing Nigeria’s agricultural sector.

Her focus was on productivity, production, and income, while commending the improvements witnessed across these various parameters.

She observed that the success is attributed to the steadfast commitment of local communities, partic – ularly farmers’ groups, who have increas

The report indicated that out of the 91 per cent of agricultural households that cultivated crops, 35 per cent practised only crop cultivation, while 48 per cent reported raising any type of livestock

ingly taken ownership of agricultural programmes.

Agricultural households

Another event in the quarter under review was the report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that Nigeria had about 40.2 million agriculture households.

The NBS reported this in its National Agricultural Sample Census (NASC) 2022 released in Abuja, last month. The census was conducted by the NBS in partnership with the World Bank, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

The report indicated that out of the 91 per cent of agricultural households that cultivated crops, 35 per cent practised only crop cultivation, while 48 per cent reported raising any type of livestock.

It showed that 16 per cent of the households raised 58 million cattle, while 41.2 per cent raised about 124 million goats. While 42.5 per cent raised poultry, most commonly chickens, while five per cent practised fisheries.

The report showed that the lowest percentage of agricultural households into crop cultivation was recorded in Lagos State at 48.0 per cent, while Ebonyi recorded the highest at 99.5 per cent.

It showed the highest percentage of agricultural households engaged in livestock production was reported in Jigawa at 84.2 per cent, followed by Bauchi at 79.7 per cent.

It was reported in the second quarter that the Federal Government expressed dissatisfaction against the dissent of most farmers in yielding to the prediction of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET), which has led to poor food production in the country.

In particular, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari, said this in Abuja, at the unveiling of NiMET Cropping Calendar for Selected Crops, where he contended that the conventional wisdom and knowledge adopted by farmers to grow crops no longer subsisted in the world that is gradually ravaged by climate change phenomenon.

The minister reminded farmers that addressing the challenges of climate change required the implementation of sustainable agricultural practices, development of climate-resilient crop varieties, improvement of water management techniques, and enhancement of early warning systems for extreme weather events.

Biotechnology

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security stated in the second quarter that it was already working closely by collaborating with different stakeholders to promote from bio to food fortification at household and industrial levels, in a order to improved food security in the country.

The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari, disclosed this in an interview with New Telegraph in Lagos. Kyari explained that the agric ministry was already biofortifying staple crops such as maize, rice, cassava, sweet potato, millet, and sorghum with micronutrients and fortifying essential food commodities such as flour, salt, and cooking oil with key vitamins and minerals, in efforts towards combating malnutrition via food fortification in the country.

During the second quarter, in response to the declaration of emergency on food and water by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in line with the food security pillar of the Renewed Hope agenda, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security disclosed that the ministry was promoting collaborations across the board with all stakeholders on food security.

The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Kyari, stated that the move was to bring about the necessary transformation in the food system required for the immediate and long-term interventions.

To underscore the importance of collaboration, Kyari pointed out that areas such as finance, transport, energy, security, and water were vital for agriculture to thrive, but require the intervention of other MDAs in finance, petroleum, water, and security sectors.

Rainfall

The issue of rainfall and its economic effect on the country’s agric sector came to the front burner in the quarter under review, as the Institute for Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, advised farmers in North West to plant early maturing seed varieties in compliance with the NIMET predictions for the 2024 rainfall season.

The Executive Director of the Insti – tute, Prof. Ado Yusuf advised while in – teracting with newsmethis week in Zaria, Kaduna state recently.

Yusuf recalled NIMET had predicted that the 2024 wet season would be dryer than normal as some few states would witness early rainfall but for most states in the north, the rains would be late.

Reforms

Vice President, Kashim Shettima, in the just concluded second quarter, reaffirmed government’s commitment to agricultural reforms aimed at bolstering production and improving soil management practices.

Shettima made these remarks during the launch of agricultural initiative in Nigeria known as ‘Soil Values,’ held in Abuja, the FCT capital recently.

Represented by his senior special adviser on Agribusiness and Productivity, Kingsley Uzoma, Shettima stated that agriculture is a cornerstone of Nigeria’s economy, contributing significantly to the national GDP. However, it faces various constraints hindering its progress.

Last line

Before now, Nigerians were of high hope that things would improve in the country’s agric sector, but their expectations have been dashed as food prices and high cost of other items remain uncontrollable.

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