Food Crisis: ’82m Nigerians may go hungry soon’, UN warns

Food at markets

The United Nations (UN), has again predicted that 82 million Nigerians, about 64 percent of the country’s population, may go hungry by 2030, calling on the Government to tackle climate change, pest infestations, and other threats to agricultural productivity.

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The prediction comes in the wake of a persistent hike in food prices in the country.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, (NBS), Nigeria’s food inflation rate hit a record high of 40.66 per cent in May 2024, surpassing the previous month’s 40.53 increase. This surge represents the largest year-on-year increase in food prices since records began in 1996.

Historically, food inflation in Nigeria has averaged 13.42%, with the lowest point of -17.50% in January 2000.

Speaking recently at the launch of CropWatch in Abuja, the Resident Humanitarian Coordinator of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, (FAO), represented by one of the UN officials, Taofiq Braimoh, said, “The government of Nigeria, in collaboration with others, conducts an annual food security survey. This year’s results are alarming: approximately 22 million Nigerians will face food insecurity in 2023; and around 80-82 million are at risk of severe food insecurity by 2030.

“Nigeria, like many countries, grapples with food insecurity, climate change, unreliable water patterns, pest infestations, and other threats to agricultural productivity. As an agrarian society, our farms’ success directly impacts food availability for our population. Leveraging technology is crucial to strengthening our agriculture sector and ensuring food security”.

He stressed that satellite-based crop monitoring provided real-time data on crop conditions, enabling farmers and policy-makers to make informed decisions and optimise agricultural practices. He noted that the technology could help expedite the accomplishment of sustainable development goals in food and agriculture.

In 2023, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, (FAO), predicted that no fewer than 2.6 million Nigerians in Borno, Sokoto and Zamfara States, and the FCT may face a food crisis between June and August 2024.

Poverty & Hunger

According to a government-led Cadre Harmonisé analysis released in March, 2024, approximately 4.8 million people in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States are experiencing severe food insecurity, the highest level in seven years.

Also, when Nigerian workers commemorated the 2024 May Day, Organised Labour expressed concern about the country’s rising food prices and fuel scarcity, saying that the current situation threatened the survival of workers.

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Olisa Agbakoba, also recently warned that a hunger riot might soon break out in Nigeria, calling on the Federal Government to act fast.

Meanwhile, Director-General of the National Space Research and Development Agency, Dr. Adepoju Mathew, highlighted the importance of science, technology, and innovation in advancing agricultural development and food security.

“The world population is projected to reach 9.5 billion by 2050; and food production must increase by 70% to meet this demand. Space science, technology, and innovation play a crucial role in transforming agriculture and enhancing food security”, he stated.

Speaking on the UN warning yesterday, the National Secretary of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, (AFAN), Dr. Yinusu Alidu, said the UN report should be taken seriously, noting that it reflects the real situation in the country.

He said, “What the UN said is trending at the moment because it reflects the real situation in the country. It is not magic; the UN is only gathering reports, and speaking to the current situation. They are using global warming, climate change, insecurity, and other factors to make the report. People like us on the field know already that the UN’s report is becoming real.

“This is July, and there is not enough rain yet. Weather forecast experts have predicted that there is going to be a drought. They predicted that there was going to be a short rain period, and that rain may not fall after August. They advised farmers to plant crops that will yield and mature fast. If not, the crops will be stunted and will not yield well. If people use conventional modes of planting, their farms will be affected by drought”.

Alidu, therefore, urged the Government to act on the report to prevent a food crisis.

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