The precarious security situation in the country should be accorded necessary attention to avoid the imminent hunger. In the last few months, terrorists, bandits and some criminal elements have targeted farms and farmers, destroying crops, raping women, carting away animals, killing and maiming their victims and in some cases, setting farmlands on fire. The increased invasion and security breaches have assumed frightening proportions as there is hardly any part of the country that can be said to be safe any longer. People are abducted, kidnapped and robbed with minimal resistance from the security forces. These bloody breaches have created millions of internally-displaced persons and rendered farming activities negligible in the North-East, North-West, and North-Central that are regarded as the major food-producing regions. Farming in other regions is also increasingly being threatened. Hardly do we get culprits apprehended and prosecuted for such heinous acts making the scenario more complex and hopeless.
Food security situation in Nigeria is appalling. Apart from the fact that agricultural production is largely done at the subsistence level, the challenge of high cost of capital, poor storage facilities, existence of unfavourable policies, unpredictable weather conditions, and rural-urban drift, insecurity has joined the list of factors militating against robust farming in the country. If this unfortunate condition is not halted without further delay, hunger, poverty, malnutrition, disease and famine may become the lot of the nation. A country that cannot feed its citizens is simply courting disaster for hunger provokes anger and violence. Children and younger people are prone to suffer and die from severe acute malnutrition because of their tender age while older people are less resilient to the negative effects of hunger and famine. Not much impact can said to have been felt in terms of the heavy investment in agriculture. For instance, the N1.5 trillion intervention of the Federal Government in agriculture through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for about three million farmer, is a case study without meaningful impact.
Nigeria is blessed with abundant land, weather conditions and human resources. Hence, large-scale farming that utilises industrial methods of production to meet the agricultural and industrial needs of the country should be what we have in place that would serve as a major attraction for equity funds and other types of investments. There is an urgent need to stem this dangerous tide, to become prosperous. Rather, what do we have today? Nigeria occupies sits on the 10th position in the 2020 Global Hunger Index where less-endowed countries like Afghanistan and Haiti also featured among the 10 hungriest countries. Millions of Nigerians live in extreme poverty on less than $1.90 per person per day, an amount which is abysmally low to support a healthy livelihood. The North-East Development Commission informed that over 2.6 million people are at risk of hunger in Borno State alone due to onslaught by Boko Haram-ISWAP terrorists. The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has revealed that insurgency had denied 65,800 farmers access to agricultural inputs while Nigeria’s foreign reserves have plunged to a five-year low of less than US$30 billion as at July 2022 despite rising crude prices, just as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had warned that about 19.4 million Nigerians could face food crisis and nutrition insecurity by August 2022 because of insecurity and other problems facing agricultural production.
Governments at all levels should rise up, do more to protect our farmers and save the nation from the looming danger. To begin with, more security personnel should be deployed to our farms while regular patrols should be intensified. There is need to encourage grassroots security activities not only for intelligence gathering, but to make it possible to tackle insecurity at the community level. Security agencies should synergise by working together to harmoniously confront a common enemy. Adequate attention should be given to securing our land borders, as a number of invaders are known to come from neighbouring African nations. The government and relevant stakeholders should be cautioned not to be detracted by the euphoria of the forthcoming general elections by neglecting critical sectors of the economy.
The government should ensure that all the security agencies give needed protection to farmers with specific reference to agricultural land geared towards food production and preservation. The government should stop the current practice of focusing attention on big farmers. As much as possible, state governors and local government chairmen should live up to expectations by tackling insecurity in their domains by establishing security outfits to protect farming. States must be allowed to take charge of the security of their domain, as a precursor to achieving a seamless farming output while the Federal Government must display greater commitment and utmost sincerity in fighting insurgency. FarmingFarmersFarms equally calls on various governments to put in place special agricultural security squads to give adequate protection to our farmers.
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