FG gives reasons why food insecurity is a growing problem – The Sun Nigeria

By Tony Osauzo Benign

The combined effect of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, the escalating war between Ukraine and Russia and the growing number of internally displaced people has made food insecurity in the country a growing problem, said the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, unveiled yesterday in Benin.

He stated this in a keynote speech he gave during the first deployment of agricultural inputs and equipment, as special intervention support for smallholder farmers in Edo State.

Dr. Umakhihe pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic in particular, has aggravated poverty and food insecurity in the country, pointing out that the reduction in economic activities due to the pandemic has led to higher food prices, which may reach 120% in markets nationwide.

“Input distribution is targeted to smallholder farmers, who make up around 70% of the food producing population. Over the past seven years, food security issues have been a major focus of the Nigerian government’s policy direction. It was among the main goals, which world leaders initially agreed to devote resources to realizing by 2015, but now by 2030. These goals seek to ensure no poverty and zero hunger by 2030 , as one of the SDGs.

“To address food insecurity occasioned by national insecurity crises and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nigerian government, through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, has developed strategic policies such as the Agriculture for Food and Employment (AFJP), the Imperative Green Plan, Agricultural Promotion Policy, NATIP and Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI), among others.

“These policies aim to ensure food security, economic growth and job creation, especially in this post-COVID-19 era.

“Smallholders are the most vulnerable in times of crisis. It becomes imperative for the government to support them with much needed inputs, especially seeds, the most important factor affecting the yield of farmers, to enable them to recover quickly from the setback of the pandemic. COVID-19 and the effects of insecurity”.

The Permanent Secretary who listed agricultural inputs as food dehydrator, motorized oil palm harvester, cashew nut cracker, 3 HP water pump, knapsack sprayers, agrochemicals, growth promoters, tillers, cassava stalks, planters and cassava processing equipment, as well as seeds of yams, maize, cashew and groundnut, coconut, oil palm and cocoa seedlings, said the items were donated free of charge to farmers.

He explained that the support would open up investment opportunities, create jobs for stakeholders and facilitate increased production, as well as food and nutrition security.

“In this input distribution effort, 35% goes to women farmers and processors, in line with the target set in our national plan on gender equality and our policies to ensure increased opportunities for women.

“Similarly, 10% is for people with special needs, and this has been communicated to farmers associations, to act accordingly.

“It should be noted that this year alone, the ministry, in its effort to support smallholder farmers, has distributed different equipment, improved seeds and seedlings of various crops to farmers in Osun, Plateau, Kaduna states and Taraba. The next major distribution of inputs and equipment will be in Katsina State,” Dr. Umakhihe further revealed.

In his welcome address, Edo Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security, Stephen Ideheren, said Governor Godwin Obaseki was committed to agricultural development, with the administration also fully supporting farmers in the state, to ensure food security.

On his part, the National Chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Alhaji Rabiu Mudi, who was represented by the Association’s National Legal Adviser, Lukman Mohammed, hailed the administration of Muhammadu Buhari for the initiative, ensuring that members support it since agriculture has held the main role in Nigeria’s development, and to diversify the economy.

In his speech, AFAN’s Edo President, Alhaji Bako Dogwo, lamented that the state, the nation’s food basket, does not have a single tractor. He therefore appealed to the federal government for help in order to stimulate agricultural production and ensure optimal performance.

About Lolita Plowman

Check Also

MoCCAE and UAE EDB sign MoU to support agricultural SMEs

The UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MoCCAE) and the Emirates Development Bank (EDB) …