New Telegraph

#EndSARS: Nigeria on verge of food crisis

Following the wanton destruction and massive looting during the recent #ENDSARS protests nationwide, Nigerian farmers under the aegis of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), have disclosed that the protests affected the country’s food reserves meant for dry season farming.

The group, therefore, predicted looming food crisis and hunger early 2021. The association described the protests as a serious risk factor to food sufficiency in Nigeria, especially in the early part of 2021, as well as for the dry season, which was planned to mitigate the effect of flooding, COVID-19 and even banditry, which hindered some farmers from going to their farms across Nigeria in 2020 generally. Also, AFAN added that the #EndSARS protests was now responsible for spike in prices of foodstuff and other items in the country.

The National President of AFAN, Kabir Ibrahim, disclosed these in an interview with New Telegraph, saying that Nigeria was on the verge of facing acute food shortage following the #EndSARS protests. According to him, the timing of the protest was wrong for Nigeria’s agriculture, saying that it affected agric products that were meant to be distributed across the country.

The AFAN national president explained that before the #ENDSARS protests, banditry, kidnapping and general insecurity in the country, mostly in the North West region and some other parts of the country, had portended severe economic risk to the country’s food chain as local farmers abandoned their farms for safety. Ibrahim stressed that insecurity in Nigeria’s agric sector at the moment with banditry and kidnapping was becoming a cankerworm with farmers bearing the brunt.

He said: “The protests led to looting of some of our food reserves and palliative to the vulnerable, including seeds and other inputs meant for dry season farming in some government storages, and this is a serious risk factor to food sufficiency in the long run as well as the dry season.

“Some of the seeds were being planned for the dry season to mitigate the effect of flooding, COVID-19 and even banditry. The food system is in a bad situation and the protests simply served to compound it.”

Ibrahim continued: “The situation in the case of vegetables, which are largely produced during the dry season, might not continue, but certainly the protests caused a lot of havoc by destroying some of the food items being transported from the place of cultivation to where they are needed.

It may be exaggerated, but certainly the threat to food sufficiency is real in Nigeria, especially in the early part of 2021.” Speaking on the #ENDSARS protest fuelling further food crisis post-COVID-19, the leader of the Nigerian farmers said: “The potential for aggravating scarcity is certainly there, due to the #ENDSARS protests, which interfered with the food system and, of course, the COVID-19, which is unfortunately still present. While reacting to the need to open up the borders following the rising food prices, shortage of agric foodstuff, he said: “While there is an obvious threat to the food system by opening our borders, especially, around areas where our neighbors largely depend on us for food supply, it may be prudent to consider opening them still because of the desired inflow of goods and services, which are also needed by us.

“I have some trepidation in supporting the opening our borders or allowing import of food items now because that will erode all the gains we made prior to COVID-19. On the whole, we have a very difficult situation in our hands.”

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