The Federal Government should declare a state of emergency on stable food in Nigeria, according to the House of Representatives, warning that famine is looming due to the country’s growing insecurity, which is discouraging agriculture.
According to the House, the country’s security situation is undermining the Federal Government’s successes on the agricultural revolution, which are led by President Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
Sani Bala, a member of the House, had raised the alarm with a motion of urgent public significance, which the parliamentarians unanimously supported on Thursday.
According to a recent forecast by the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization, an estimated 13 million people in Nigeria may face acute food insecurity in the coming months.
According to the report, the number of individuals in critical or worse stages of food insecurity might rise to 16.9 million unless enough support and government action are provided to promote recovery and resilience.
In recent years, the federal government has pushed huge agricultural expansion, resulting to the closure of land borders against the importation of some staple foods in order to foster enough local production and food sufficiency, according to the congressman.
However, Bala said, “The House is concerned that agricultural activities, production and its overall development in the country have been adversely affected by insurgency and banditry activities, especially in the northern parts, where bandits have taken over farmlands – cultivated farmlands – and agricultural produce are burnt and destroyed/
“Farmers have stopped going to their farmlands for fear of being killed or kidnapped and in some other instances. Farmers are taxed by bandits to access their farmlands;
“The House is also concerned that in addition to insecurity, the advent of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic has also contributed immensely to reducing agricultural production activities in the country.
“The House is further concerned that the impact of COVID-19 alone has occasioned severe and widespread increases in global food insecurity, thereby affecting vulnerable households in almost every country, with impacts expected to continue into 2022 and possibly beyond.
“The House is disturbed that the increasing rate of global food insecurity has caused countries like China to adopt an Action Plan on saving food, which signals the imperativeness of guarding our relatively diminishing harvest of food produce.
“The House is alarmed that, despite signals of impending global food shortages, the daily illegal movement of 40 to 50 trucks of millet, maize, guinea corn, etc., out of the country to neighbouring countries further depletes Nigeria’s food bank and is an attempt to increase the woes that may result from food crisis.”
Adopting the motion, the House urged the Federal Government to “declare a state of emergency on staple food produce and initiate a deliberate plan of averting any impending famine or food shortage in the post COVID-19 era.”
The House also urged the government to, as a matter of urgency, direct relevant agencies to forestall further smuggling of grains out of the country to neighbouring countries.
The MPs also encouraged the government to step up efforts to store vast amounts of food in nationwide silos in order to join other countries in saving food for the future.