Nigeria’s looming food security crisis

NIGERIA, once hailed as the breadbasket of Africa, is now teetering on the brink of a severe food security crisis. The root causes of this impending disaster are manifold, ranging from government negligence to outdated policies and a lack of support for young farmers and agricultural innovators. One of the primary factors contributing to Nigeria’s food security woes is the disconnect between government policymakers and the realities of the agricultural sector. While federal and state ministries of agriculture exist, they often lack individuals with firsthand farming experience or a genuine passion for agriculture. Decisions are made in bureaucratic offices far removed from the fields, leading to policies that fail to address the needs of farmers or stimulate agricultural growth. Moreover,  inadequate financial support for farmers exacerbates the situation. Access to suitable loans is limited, and those available often come with stringent requirements or high interest rates. As a result, many aspiring farmers, particularly young people, are deterred from entering the agricultural sector or expanding their operations.

Compounding these issues is the government’s failure to embrace technological advancements and modern agricultural practices. While young experts with a passion for agriculture and innovative agritech skills abound, they are often met with resistance or bureaucratic hurdles when attempting to implement new technologies or approaches. This stifles innovation and impedes the sector’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances and increase productivity. The consequences of these shortcomings are becoming increasingly evident. Rising food prices, fueled by a combination of inflation and supply chain disruptions, are placing a heavy burden on Nigerian households. The recent decision by the Niger state government to restrict the large-scale purchase of food commodities further exacerbates the situation, threatening to drive prices even higher and deepen food insecurity across the country. To avert disaster, urgent action is required on multiple fronts. First and foremost, the government must overhaul its outdated agricultural policies and adopt a more holistic approach that prioritizes the needs of farmers and promotes innovation. This includes creating suitable lending policies tailored to the unique challenges faced by farmers and providing incentives for the adoption of modern farming techniques.

By investing in agriculture, Nigeria will not only feed its own population but also emerge as a key player in regional and global food markets. The time for action is now. Failure to act risks condemning millions of Nigerians to hunger and instability. It is imperative that we seize this opportunity to build a more resilient and food-secure future for all. Additionally, there is an urgent need to make agriculture more attractive to the younger generation. By highlighting the potential for innovation and entrepreneurship within the agricultural sector, we can inspire a new wave of young farmers eager to transform Nigeria’s agricultural landscape. This requires investing in agricultural education and training programs, as well as fostering an ecosystem that supports the growth of agribusinesses and startups.

The recent decision by the Niger state government to restrict the large-scale purchase of food commodities serves as a stark reminder of the precariousness of our food security situation. With Niger state playing a pivotal role in the production of key food staples, such as yam, rice, maize, and groundnut, any disruption to its agricultural output will have far-reaching consequences for the entire nation. As farmers, we implore the government to heed the warning signs and take decisive action before it’s too late. The consequences of inaction are too grave to contemplate, with the potential for widespread hunger and social unrest looming large on the horizon. Together, we must work towards a future where Nigerian agriculture thrives, ensuring food security for generations to come.

  • Eniola is a farmer

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Source:

Tribune Online