New Telegraph

FG Restates Commitment To Boost Food Production

The Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Senator Atiku Bagudu, has expressed commitment to the Federal Government to ensure adequate nutrition and food security for the citizens.

He gave the assurance Thursday in Abuja while speaking at the inaugural meeting of the House of Representatives Committee on Nutrition and Food Security with relevant stakeholders

Bagudu said the twin challenges of nutrition and food security have drawn the attention of many stakeholders in the country.

He noted that both nutrition and food security have hitherto been associated with one sector or the other rather than appreciating the cross-cutting nature of those challenges.

According to him, “Nigeria has done very well and supported by different stakeholders, particularly the government of President Bola Tinubu, have appreciated the nutrition and food security challenges.

“We have the National Food Security Council Chaired by no less a person than the Vice President, Kashim Shettima. We are participants in the United Nations Food System Transformation as well as the institutional alignment through the Ministry of Agriculture being recognised as the Ministry of Agriculture and that of Food Security.

This is commendable. We recall that in the last administration under former President Muhammadu Buhari, a national security council was created chaired by the President himself and I was privileged to be the Vice Chair of that council.

“What led to it is the recognition that food security is not an agriculture issue, not a health issue, not an environment issue, not a physical security issue. It is all of it. So we need to have stakeholders around the table so we can appreciate, we can do better. The same thing with nutrition.

“The House of Representatives is really helping in addressing the challenges. Mr President has recognized these issues and is committed to addressing them,” he said.

In his remarks, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Tajudeen Abbas, said that the Committee was very crucial to the vision of the House to ‘be responsive, results-oriented and effective in performing its constitutional mandate towards the security and welfare of Nigerians’.

He said Nigeria, like the rest of the world, is experiencing a food crisis, exacerbated by climate change, rising inflation, and pervasive insecurity.

Hence, he said, the decision of the House to set up a Committee that would be dedicated to fashioning legislative measures and actions to tackle the menace of food insecurity and malnutrition affecting our people.

He said according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) about 26.5 million Nigerians would be grappling with high levels of food insecurity in 2024, while the country is said to have the second highest burden of malnutrition in the world, with 32% children under the age of five stunted or chronically malnourished.

According to him, “Malnutrition currently impacts 35 million children under the age of five, among whom 12 million are stunted, 3 million are wasted, and 23.5 million suffer from anaemia. An additional 17.7 million individuals are facing hunger, with 2.6 million children confronting severe acute malnutrition in 2024. Among women of childbearing age, 7% experience severe acute malnutrition.

“These figures may be exacerbated due to the current food inflation rate, which stands at about 33.7% (according to the Central Bank of Nigeria).

Furthermore, the World Food Programme’s September 2023 publication of the ‘Nigeria Hunger Map’ estimates that 24.9 million Nigerians are in an acute or critical stage of hunger, categorized as an emergency, while 85.8 million Nigerians have insufficient food consumption. Among this population, 47.7 million Nigerians resort to crisis-level or above-crisis-level food-based coping strategies.

“The above data paints a very gloomy picture requiring urgent legislative action. This is particularly so given that some of the causative factors are issues within the legislative competence of the House to deal with.

The food and nutrition crisis affecting us as a nation is partly caused by global warming and climate change, pervasive insecurity across the country which prevents farmers and herders from engaging in their various agricultural activities, poor irrigation, outdated land tenure system, crude and traditional farm practices on subsistence levels as well as a myriad of other challenges.

He said both nutrition and food security have hitherto been associated with one sector or the other rather than appreciating the cross-cutting nature of those challenges.

He added, “Nigeria has done very well and supported by different stakeholders, particularly the government of President Bola Tinubu, have appreciated the nutrition and food security challenges.

“We have the National Food Security Council Chaired by no less a person than the Vice President, Kashim Shettima. We are participants in the United Nations Food System Transformation as well as the institutional alignment which through the Ministry of Agriculture is recognised as the Ministry of Agriculture and that of Food Security”

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