Business

Stakeholders to FG: Declare emergency in food sector

Following the prevailing crisis in the agric sector, stakeholders in the country’s industrial and food development arena have called on the Federal Government to take urgent steps to provide succour for the citizens. They all affirmed that the crisis called for serious concerns in order to save the country’s economy from further straits that will be too difficult for President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to handle.

Those who spoke to New Telegraph include a former National President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Kabir Ibrahim, an architect; his counterpart in AFAN and Chairman, Lagos chapter of the association and South West region Coordinator, Dr. Femi Oke; a former Director-General of LCCI and Chief Executive Officer, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), Dr. Muda Yusuf; current AFAN National President, Mudi Farouk Rabiu and the Director- General of African Centre for Supply Chain (ACSC), Dr. Obiora Madu.

They warned that if care is not taken, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)’s pronouncement of 19 million Nigerians being in poverty could be doubled if nothing is done between now and 2023. Ibrahim said that Nigeria’s agri-culture was now at crossroads and begging for urgent solutions.

He explained that Nigeria’s population explosion, COVID-19, insecurity, laziness in policy implementation and lack of cohesion were ‘threat factors’ to food production, processing, distribution and consumption in the country currently. Ibrahim said: “The prices of food items and foodstuffs are terrible in the markets currently when you look at their prices. We just have to be more strategic in order to bring stability to the nation because if these things continue this way, there will be real destabilisation in the whole country.

“You know what the FAO said that about 19 million people are into poverty levels in Nigeria, now it will be more than twice that number that will go into poverty levels if care is not taken since we have this insecurity, famine, hunger and food insufficiency. “So, the food situation will exacerbate that very soon. So am thinking, unless government does something that is very innovative in the short term, there will be disaster in Nigeria’s agriculture and economy at large with this skyrocketing prices of foodstuffs in the country.” On Nigeria being in an election year, he added: “This is even worsening the food crisis situation in country more. That is why we must take decisive action now. We should not wait till tomorrow, it is now, because the situation is very dire now.

“So I have said it there will be disaster in the whole economy if care is not taken.” In his reaction, Oke noted that many Nigerians were currently experiencing hardship and government’s intervention is urgently needed to save the day from further deteriorating. He said: “The price of foodstuffs is getting too high and is everywhere now. For me, I don’t think it’s from this election thing, rather, it’s all about the insecurity happening around the corridors of agric sector. “Also, the rising cost of diesel bought by transporters bringing these foods to the urban areas is also a factor affecting prices of foodstuffs in the country. For instance, look at the price of fertiliser jumping from N5,500 to N18,800, crate of eggs is between N2,000 and N2,200. N1,800 factory price just because of the chicken feeds.

A bag of rice is now N31,000. Garri price is now N12,000. But with the Ramadan, we are going to see increment in the price of commodities soon. “With the way things are going, hunger, poverty, food shortages, mass unemployment, insecurity and may God not let us see unrest among Nigerians because the situation is biting and hardship is everywhere.” For Yusuf, the rising food price is worrisome and disturbing and it is because of the way Nigeria’s economy is structured; which is 80 per cent import dependent on foreign goods.

He added that it was not only Nigeria experiencing this food volatility, but all developing countries going through the same sordid situation more because of the on-going war in Ukraine. Rabiu, in his submission, said the blame should not be on local farmers, but the dire situation facing agriculture, like insecurity, exchange rate, high cost of animal feeds, grains, fertiliser and others. On the impacts of the Ukraine war adding up to oil and fertilizer prices and food price concerns, Obiora stated that fertiliser is made up of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Those are the three major types of fertiliser that farmers around the world have to use every year in order to grow that crop.

 

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