There is hunger in Nigeria, experts reply Agric minister

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Muhammad Sabo Nanono last Monday said Nigeria is producing enough to feed itself. He asserted that there is no hunger in the country. But contrary to his assertion, experts in the sector bare their minds on the true state of the situation. GBENGA AKINFENWA reports.
Nigeria Is Far From Food Sufficiency
The minister’s claim is a mere political statement, which does not reflect the reality of our food security position. Even a blind man will know that things have fallen apart in our food production. We are not producing enough to feed our citizens, forcing us to rely on the importation of 80 per cent of the food we consume.

We are a consuming nation with foreign taste, thereby wasting our meagre foreign reserves on imports when we can grow the crops.

How many indigenous farms has the minister visited since he assumed office?
The minister should have visited the markets and see how exorbitant prices of foodstuffs are and how they have gone beyond the reach of the common man. We don’t have to import foods if we are producing enough and prices of these commodities will not be this high.

How many agriculture stakeholders have the minister engaged to assess the situation in the sector? We need active Minster that can move around like former minister, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina. We need to ask the minister which aspect of the farm produce we are producing enough that is profitable to farmers and affordable to the citizens.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Nigeria used to be self-sufficient in some of the leading cash crops like cocoa, oil palm, rubber, groundnuts, and others, but now, we import some of these products. We import ordinary tomato pastes, toothpick, rice, palm oil, vegetable oil, etc. Nigeria is far from food sufficiency.
Prince Wale Oyekoya

More People Embark On Hunger To Feed Their Children
His assertion shows a high level of disconnect between him and the citizens.

Benue is the food basket of the nation and the people are running away from their farms for fear of attack. The security situation in the middle belt has affected the farming output; some states had their crops flooded. Is that part of the food he calculated?

If we say more than half of our population are living on less than a dollar a day, are you saying less than N400 can feed an adult three meals a day much less a family? So, in what context is the abundance he refers to?

Initiatives are in place but the food is not printed. There are a process and timeline for any initiative to yield results. So, I disagree with him. The people are hungry and that is why they are angry at just about everything.

Assertions such as this would imply more decisions that would only make life tougher on citizens.

Now the border is closed and the cost of local rice went up. Lake Rice was already not available in most Local Governments, but being sold in the market for as high as N16, 000, now it’s almost N18 000. So, how many homes can afford a quarter bag of rice a month?

If he says the food is available, it means those who couldn’t afford some foods before can now afford them, but reverse is the case, as more people are struggling to feed their children while going hungry themselves. As a farmer, I see efforts being made, but those efforts do not yield quick results.
Toluwalope Daramola
Founder of Menitos Farm Depot

There Is Hunger In Nigeria
Hunger is seriously in the country; the whole ceremony is around the rice. How many of us are eating rice? It is not our traditional menu, I remember it was only during Christmas or Salah that we were given rice to eat.

The yam varieties of those days have disappeared. Our traditional good dams have disappeared because our people are no longer farming. So, hunger is really in the country.

The youths are no longer interested in farming, they prefer riding bikes. The old people who are into farming are few and how much can these people farm?

It is very difficult to get maize; even to make a paste for the chicken is not easy. 
To buy yam now is very expensive in rural areas because the farmers are no longer there.

I am very conversant with the fish industry; the knowledge is not there. The cost of starting a business is enormous. When starters struggle to get funding to venture into the business when they get to the market the big guys in the industry would have slashed the price through the smuggled fish from China, but thank God for the border closure, which has reduced this menace.
Remi Ahmed
President, Tilapia Aquaculture Developers Association, Nigeria (TADAN)

It Is Not About Availability Of Food, It Is About Affordability
There is no doubt that we are producing enough food, but is it affordable to everybody? I can tell you that almost 40 per cent of what we produce goes to waste.

Post-harvest losses and other factors affect the produce from leaving the farms at times. Where is the road infrastructure to bring down the goods?

So, there are a lot of problems, it’s not all about production but there is still a lot to be done, especially in terms of the preservation of those goods that are produced.

Even if there is food and people don’t have the money to buy the food, is it free of charge? We all know it that there are so many people who can’t afford to feed themselves. We don’t have any social security in the country, where people who don’t have can be fed.

It is not about the availability of food as I am concerned; it is about affordability. How many people can feed themselves? There must be a form of social security through which poor people who cannot feed themselves, can access food.

As I am concerned, what the government needs to do is a matter of policy. It has gotten to a time where the social security aspect has to be looked into to provide for the have-nots! Some people would say how do you determine the have-nots? To me, it is very easy. The newly created Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs should be able to undertake the assignment! We are waiting to see the difference.

Also they have to invest in preservation facilities like warehouses where we can keep perishable goods for like seven to eight months and it will remain safe.

People are complaining that they are closing borders if they don’t close the border, how do we grow our sector?

Dr. Victor Inyama
National President, Federation Of Agricultural Commodity Association Of Nigeria (FACAN)

There Is Food, What Is Lacking Is Purchasing Power
What is lacking is the purchasing power of the people, not that there are no foods. The purchasing power is low. There is relative stability in prices of maize, beans, soya beans, and others, but what is lacking is the purchasing power of the people, most especially as many people are unemployed.

If you are unemployed, where do you get money to buy food?

To me, I will support the assertion of the president that our youths are lazy. Some Nigerians don’t want to work, even if you cannot afford to sell, you cannot at least afford to produce to eat.

But everybody is waiting for a miracle to happen and invariably, it is not possible. I was in Nassarawa on Wednesday for the distribution of eggs to some schools, I was amazed seeing some people being idle, as early as 11.00 am and you want everybody to eat, how do you eat?

The people don’t want to work and expect things to come and occupy their table. The minister said that there is food, to me, there is food but it is not being distributed freely, the farmers need to be equipped. It is when you don’t have money that you will say you are hungry, then you are hungry.

Onallo Akpa
Director-General, Poultry Association Of Nigeria (PAN)


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