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Despite Buhari’s Claims On Food Security In Nigeria, Statistics Prove The Opposite

The Oasis Reporters

January 24, 2019

Disposable Food Packs In Nigeria
By Mike Odeh James

During his presidential election campaign speech in Warri, Delta State on January 17, 2019, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari said that Nigeria has achieved food security .
The implication of President Buhari’s statement can not be understated nor waved aside, viz-a-viz the current situation on ground .

WHAT IS FOOD SECURITY ?

One then would have to understand what food security is from international and national perspectives.

At the 1974 World Food Conference the term “food security” was defined with an emphasis on supply. Food security, they said, is the “availability at all times of adequate, nourishing, diverse, balanced and moderate world food supplies of basic foodstuffs to sustain a steady expansion of food consumption and to offset fluctuations in production and prices”.

The final report of the 1996 World Food Summit states that food security “exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”.

From these two definitions , one would have a generally accepted theory that food security is achieved if every family member has access to enough food for an active, healthy life, such that individuals who are food secure do not live in hunger or fear of starvation.

Coming back to Nigeria, the Federal Government says Nigeria has improved virtually in all agricultural sectors .

Huge Agricultural Development In Nigeria .

According to Audu Ogbe, Nigeria ‘s Agriculture Minister, Nigeria is currently producing 5.8 million to 6 million metric tonnes of paddy rice and the number of paddy farmers in the country has risen from 5 million to 12. 2 million and by the end of this planting season, production would increase to 9 million metric tonnes per annum by 2019.

“We are between 5.8 – 6 million tonnes of paddy rice, the number of farmers growing paddy has risen from 5 million to 12.2 million, more are coming in as we clear more lands for them and arrange irrigation facilities, by the end of this farming season we should be approaching 8 million tonnes of paddy which will give us roughly 6.5 million tonnes of processed rice and we hope that by this time next year we should be targeting 9 million metric tonnes of paddy… but irrigation has to come on board because as long as we depend on rain-fed agriculture we will have difficulties achieving that target”

Nigeria is also the largest producer of maize in Africa, 10 million metric tonnes and this is according to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture.

The country is the second largest producer of sorghum and the third in Millet.It still leads in yam production way above everybody else because nearly 66% of all the yams in the world are grown in the country.
It is also number 4 in cashew nuts. In fact, Nigeria has generated 700 million dollars this year from cashew nut farming .

Despite all these huge developments in the agricultural sector, has the country actually achieved self-suficency in food production ?

In 2017, Reuters International reported that some 4.7 million people in the northeast of Nigeria depend on food aid, some of which is blocked by militant attacks, some held up by a lack of funding and some, diplomats say, stolen before it can reach those in need.

In the Middle Belt, the tentacles of insecurity are far reaching. The threat is grave for food production because the conflicts are in the agricultural belts of the Benue-Niger valley where food is produced, not only for Nigeria but for West Africa as a whole. Farms are targeted and destroyed, farmers are killed and terror holds sway in our rural communities.

Benue citizens fleeing from militia herdsmen killings, but to nowhere on foot.

The security of food producers is threatened as farmers in Plateau, Benue, Taraba, Southern Kaduna, Kogi, Adamawa and parts of Bauchi, Nasarawa and Niger States have been killed, while others are confined to various Internal Displaced Person’s (IDPs) camps dotted across the states.

According to a report co-authored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and UN partner agencies (IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO), very limited progress has been made in addressing the many aspects of malnutrition, putting the health of hundreds of millions of people at risk.

The reports showed that hunger has been on the increase over the past three years returning to levels from a decade ago.

“This reversal in progress sends a clear warning that more must be done and urgently if the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger is to be achieved by 2030, the agencies said.

Based on happening in the country, Nigeria contributes to this high figure.

Nigeria has the highest prevalence rate of stunted under-five children in sub-Saharan Africa, with about 17. 2 million children affected.

The 2016/2017 Multiple Indicator Cluster survey for Nigeria showed that 59 percent of the under-five children in the North-west are stunted, followed by the North-east with 52 percent and North-central with 35 percent.

Similarly in 2017, one in four Nigerians was severely food insecure, according to the Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO), putting to lie the claims that Nigeria has achieved food security .

The Nigeria Bureau for Statistics ( NBS) reported that the total number of people classified as unemployed increased from 17. 6 million in the fourth quarter of 2017 to 20. 9 million in the third quarter of 2018, meaning that Nigeria has over 20.9 million mouths that may not have food security .

The NBS also posted on its website “the number of persons in the labour force ( i . e . people who are able and willing to work) increased from 75. 94 million in Q 3 2015 to 80. 66 million in Q 3 2016 to 85. 1 million in Q 3, 2017 to 90. 5 million in Q 3, 2018.

That is out of 200 million Nigerians, only 88.66 million are gainfully employed and would have food security to a certain degree .

Going by the definition of food security , and the statistics reeled out by various organizations as regards Nigeria and Nigerians, it would be difficult for President Buhari to defend his statement that Nigeria has attained food security .

CONCLUSION

Nigeria has not achieved food security nor self sufficiency in food production

Written by Mike Odeh James.

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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