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FG  Sounds Alarm Over Soaring 80% Surge In Food Imports

Aminat Gusanu

In a startling revelation, the Federal Government has raised the alarm over an alarming surge of more than 80% in food importation between 2019 and 2023.

 Dr. Kingsley Uzoma, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Agribusinesses and Productivity Enhancement (SSAP), made this declaration on Thursday during the National Policy Dialogue in Abuja.

The dialogue, themed “Deepening Partnership for Scaling-Up of Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) for Smallholder Farmers in Nigeria,” was organized by the Federal Government, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the National Information and Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

Dr. Uzoma revealed that over 88.5 million Nigerians were grappling with insufficient food consumption, a figure expected to surge by an additional six million in December. 

The nation currently holds the unfortunate title of having the highest rate of stunted children globally, with 70% of the population living below the poverty line. Furthermore, food inflation stood at a staggering 31.52% in October.

“The escalating dependence on external sources further intensifies the challenges within the domestic food landscape, leading to the declaration of a state of emergency in food security by Mr. President,” Dr. Uzoma emphasized.

Highlighting IFAD-financed programs such as the Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) and Livelihood Improvement and Family Enterprises Project for the Niger Delta (LIFE-ND), Dr. Uzoma underscored the need for sustainable practices and the integration of ICT4D to enhance incomes and food security.

Despite these efforts, challenges persist, including data access, gender equality, infrastructure, and technical support. 

Dr. Uzoma emphasized the critical role of digital literacy and collaboration among agencies and the private sector in fostering greater technology adoption by smallholder farmers.

He stressed, “Increased collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and the NITDA is necessary to implement the National Digital Agriculture Strategy to further leverage technology for the advancement of the agricultural sector.”

In her remarks, IFAD Country Director, Mrs. Dede Ekoue, emphasized that the dialogue aimed to strengthen partnerships for enhanced access to digital solutions for smallholder farmers. 

These solutions, she noted, would contribute to improving livelihoods, food security, nutrition, poverty reduction, economic growth, and job creation.

 

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