Combating Hunger In Nigeria


The Famine Early Warning System Network has warned of humanitarian catastrophe in Nigeria, if necessary measures are not immediately adopted to address the famine scorch ravaging the country. Already, Aid agencies have informed national leaders that famine and malnutrition have grown so rife and dangerous. At the moment, the United Nations says 4.4 million people are “severely food insecure” in Nigeria’s North-east geo-political zone where Boko Haram insurgency has ravaged the area. Across the country, the story is not any different with varying degrees of famine and malnutrition. With farming dangerously restricted in most parts on the north as a result of insecurity emanating mainly from Boko Haram insurgency and herders’ clashes with farmers, the hunger scourge might remain with us for quite some time. It would not be out of place if President Muhammadu Buhari declares a state of emergency in the country to address food scarcity and pervasive famine that is fast spreading across the country and massively decimating the population. Two recent disturbing incidents in Nigeria call for leadership action to combat and halt the current gross degeneration of things and the unprecedented hardship confronting Nigerians to the point of not getting a square meal a day. The first incident was the death of four people in Yola, Adamawa State, as a result of hunger. Recently, four people died of hunger in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, and a few reporters were invited by the deceased’s neighbours to come and witness the burial. When this information reached our newsroom, we were dumfounded; we could hardly believe that in a country so blessed with both human and natural resources, together with good climate and vast arable lands, for the practice of all types of agriculture, could suddenly turn out to be the place where citizens would die of hunger. We were totally devastated and asked whether the Giant of Africa was still crippled by its monstrous clay feet and could no longer fend for her citizens!! The second incident occurred at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja, where a Town Hall meeting was recently organised by the Alumni Association of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru. At the historic occasion, a contributor, who happened to be a Professor, called on the gathering, particularly the Ministers present, to do everything in their powers to address the plague of hunger devouring citizens in the much-endowed country. He said most Nigerians cannot feed now as a result of the present economic hardship and so their hardships deserved more attention than the elitist and unhelpful pronouncements they were making at the jamboree!!! He was very bitter that while Nigerians were massively dying of hunger, the elites were gathering and putting up talk shows as if all was well in the country. The federal government’s efforts to transform and give prominence to agriculture is much welcome but the current economic hardships leading to hunger and massive deaths deserve more than passing attention now. So far, subsistence farming is under siege by herdsmen and therefore needs concerted action by stakeholders and the three tiers of government to rescue. Subsistence crop farmers produce more than 80% of Nigeria’s food supply, although they have running battles with rampaging herdsmen and their cattle. The ferocious battles between these two combatants have begun to negatively impact on food production and supply with dire consequences for the nation. With subsistence farming engaging more hands and becoming the largest employer of labour in the country, it must attract governments’ attention; governments at all levels must assist with inputs: seedlings, tractors, herbicides and pesticides, to promote their activities and boost annual production. Most importantly, commercial agriculture is long overdue for practice in the country and therefore should be promoted. As expected, the National Assembly has risen to the occasion and expressed concern over the frequent herdsmen-farmers clashes. While the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, sought an end to the spate of killings by the herdsmen to safeguard the country’s unity and security, Speaker Yakubu Dogara said there was need for deliberate and proactive actions to end the incessant clashes across the country. On his part, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has confirmed that 12 out of the 36 existing states are ready to partner the Federal Government on grazing and irrigation initiatives. We now call on President Buhari to step in with firm action. He has to liaise with the National Assembly over not only banning of the controversial and irksome grazing reserves but strictly on introducing and entrenching cattle ranching to finally put a stop to the spate of killings usually perpetrated through herdsmen-farmers clashes across the country. He should also encourage subsistence farmers and promote commercial agriculture in the country. These are the only viable and most rational measures available to bring sanity and cool tempers against the past tragic events in order to promote both animal husbandry and crop production to combat and banish hunger forever from the shores of Nigeria.

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