Monday, July 15, 2024

Food Security: FG urged to address insecurity, ensure even distribution of support programmes

The experts spoke against the background of President Bola Tinubu’s meeting with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum on the need to address the food crisis.

• June 28, 2024

Some agriculture stakeholders have called for equitable distribution of the federal government’s support programmes to address food insecurity in the country.

The experts, in separate interviews on Friday in Lagos, spoke against the background of President Bola Tinubu’s meeting with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum on the need to address the food crisis.

The president, at the meeting, approved the immediate rollout of the national construction and household support programme to cover all geo-political zones to boost agricultural productivity.

Under the programme, the Sokoto-Badagry Highway, which will traverse Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun, and Lagos, is prioritised.

Segun Adebayo, the deputy director of the Centre for Food Safety and Agriculture Research, urged the federal government to address the security issues in local farms.

“We have not dealt with the underlying issues; these palliatives are like trying to cut a tree from the top.

“This palliative by the presidency is a cosmetic solution, and it is not sustainable. Palliatives have never been a solution to problems like food insecurity. They are short-term measures,” said Mr Adebayo.

He alleged that the palliatives are often diverted to the families and friends of officials in charge of distributions. 

“Even the challenge with these palliatives again is that if we take a random survey to find out how many people are beneficiaries, you will hardly find the beneficiaries,” Mr Adebayo said.

He added, “If we do not solve the foundational problem of security in our farms, then the food inflation will persist.” 

Charles Idonije, an ecosystem enabler and agriculture analyst, commended the government’s effort for a sustainable road network for agriculture logistics.

“It is commendable as it will open up more inter-state trade relationships and improve more Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) across all states,” Mr Idonije said.

Mr Idonije stressed the need for effective implementation but queried the effectiveness of the N155 billion for agri-food purchases and distributions nationwide.

“Now, is the distribution of food palliative going to be seamless and transparent? So that it can reach the most vulnerable in society.

“It is just a policy thing; it is the implementation and the execution that matters. If we can have a system where this fund is shared across all key stakeholders in the sector, it will alleviate the food crisis we are currently experiencing,” he said.

Reiterating the essence of an even distribution of the palliatives, Anthonia Amakwe, the chairperson of the Association of Women in Trade and Agriculture, called for the right modality.

“It is not just about releasing the palliatives and interventions, but the modalities that will be applied in the distribution of these interventions must be well spelt out so it can go round.

“Otherwise, the interventions will remain in the hands of few people, and this has been the order of the day in this country. The government will release interventions, and in the end, it does not get to everyone,” Ms Amakwe said.

She called for the adoption of urban farming to quell the effects of the food crisis.

“If everyone embarks on urban farming, it will also help cushion the effects of the food crisis in the country,” she added. 


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