Agriculture

Northeast puts Nigeria in comity of hunger-inflicted nations

by CALEB OJEWALE

November 3, 2017 | 12:45 am
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The population of hungry people all over the world is on the increase, now affecting 815 million people after steadily declining for over 10 years, with Nigeria now featuring rather prominently among affected places on account of the country’s northeast region.

Apart from insecurity which has seen farming activities grind to a halt for up to five years, the ray of hope this year was shattered as rainfall stopped abruptly before crops were matured enough to survive with little or no water. This is likely to make the already bad situation even worse. Sources who spoke with BusinessDay from Borno and Adamawa, two of the most affected states by Boko Haram insurgency, have blamed the worsening situation on diversion of food items for sale in other states, and generally, the seeming disconnect between state governments and the challenges within the region.

Nigeria’s northeast was identified as being at high risk of famine in ‘State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World’, a report jointly authored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Buttressing this, another report, the 2017 global report on food crises by the Food Security Information Network, reports that an estimated 8.1 million people are food insecure in Northern Nigeria, with 4.7 million coming from the Northeast alone.

“Hungry people are very many in Maiduguri now. All the people are hungry,” a rather distraught Mohammadu Rijiya, president, Borno Chamber of Commerce and Industry told BusinessDay by phone.

Rijiya in an unprecedented twist further alleged that “the Borno governor is a very bad man. The federal government will send rice and he will take outside the state to sell (in places like Lagos), and not give to people in the state who really need it.”

“We need food aid from the United Nations (and other possible donors), because the situation in Maiduguri is very bad now,” Rijiya appealed.

Maliki Daniel, deputy president, Adamawa Chamber of Commerce and Industry,  while also reiterating the role of insurgency in the state’s food security crisis, further explained that people who have left the IDP camps to return home due to the unfavourable conditions in the camps, have till now been unable to cultivate their land.

“Having been unable to produce much food, we anticipate a worse situation of hunger,” said Daniel.

According to Daniel, who was a programme manager with the Agriculture Development Programme (ADP), it appears government is unaware of the situation within the state, as there is no mechanism of detecting and finding out these challenges faced by farmers; including hydrological issues.

“The ministry of agriculture is full of people who are just seated in and around the office. We used to have village extension workers who would have brought in these reports and under the ADP, there is supposed to be monitoring and evaluation unit who would have been bringing in these reports but all these are no more.

“The farmers complain but it seems there isn’t anyone to complain to (or even listening), said Daniel.

In what was described as a key worrisome finding in the state of food security and nutrition report, after a prolonged decline, the most recent estimates indicate that global hunger increased in 2016 and now affects 815 million people. Moreover, although still well below levels of a decade ago, the percentage of the global population estimated to be suffering from hunger also increased in 2016. In parts of the world, this recent surge in hunger reached an extreme level, with a famine declared in areas of South Sudan in early 2017 and alerts of high risk of famine issued for three other contexts (northeast Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen).

CALEB OJEWALE


by CALEB OJEWALE

November 3, 2017 | 12:45 am
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