On the eve of World Food Day, Nigeria finds itself at the crossroads of an escalating food crisis that is pushing millions of its citizens to the brink of hunger.
Experts and stakeholders are pointing fingers at climate change, among other factors, as they call for swift intervention by the Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration to prevent the situation from deteriorating further.
While the global impact of climate change on food production is undeniable, Nigeria’s dire situation has been exacerbated by years of neglect in the agricultural sector and an overreliance on imported food items.
The recent foreign exchange crisis, which saw the Naira exchange rate soar to unprecedented levels, further worsened the situation.
As the crisis deepens, the standard of living for Nigerians has plummeted, leading many to contemplate migrating in search of better opportunities.
A phenomenon dubbed the “japa syndrome” has emerged, reflecting the desperation of those who feel their government is unaware of their plight.
Just a few months ago, a joint report by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) sounded the alarm, predicting that over 24.8 million Nigerians would face acute food insecurity between June and August.
This projection has been surpassed, particularly in the aftermath of policies such as the fuel subsidy removal, which contributed to a headline inflation rate of 25.80% in August.
A World Bank report released in June painted an equally bleak picture, estimating that approximately 64 million Nigerians were at risk of an emergency food crisis due to rising inflation, insecurity, and climate change. The situation is dire, with 107.5 million people across several countries, including Nigeria, facing the prospect of a food crisis.
The Global Hunger Index underscored Nigeria’s dire hunger situation, ranking the country 103 out of 121 nations, placing it in the “serious” category of hunger severity. This represents a significant decline from previous years.
The consequences of this crisis are palpable on the ground. Toluwalope Daramola, a farmer and founder of Menitos Farm Depot in Lagos, expressed profound grief over the situation.
Low-income earners and vulnerable individuals can no longer afford basic food items, and the price of foodstuffs has risen by over 50% in just three months.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) confirms this with its recent Food Price Watch report, detailing substantial increases in food prices, including rice, beef, tomatoes, beans, garri, and yam.
The hardship is real, and ordinary Nigerians are feeling the pinch as the cost of basic necessities soars.
The Lagos Commissioner of Agriculture, Abisola Olusanya, attributes the food security challenges to unstable exchange rates, climate change, environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, and violent conflicts.
These factors have severely disrupted global food supply chains, necessitating a reimagining of sustainable food systems.
Suleiman Dikwa, CEO of Green Sahara Farms, calls for a holistic reevaluation of agricultural and economic policies to ensure food security. He emphasizes the need to empower local communities and small-scale farmers to create resilient local food systems.
The situation extends beyond Nigeria’s borders, as highlighted during the 78th United Nations General Assembly.
Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), emphasizes the importance of building resilient food systems to withstand the impacts of climate change and ensure food security for the population.
Addressing the crisis requires a multifaceted approach, including a focus on climate change, intra-Africa trade, and long-term solutions.
These efforts should be accompanied by government support for farmers, storage facilities, and modern tools.
As the world marks World Food Day, Nigeria’s cry for assistance in the face of this escalating food crisis becomes ever more poignant.
With the lives of millions hanging in the balance, the urgency for swift and effective intervention cannot be overstated.
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