Food Insecurity: No Respite in View

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June 11, 2024/CSL Research

Food inflation is at the highest level in decades due to a weakening Naira and low domestic agricultural production. According to the World Food Programme, 26.5 million people across the country are projected to face acute hunger in the June-August 2024 lean season. This is a significant increase from the 18.6 million food insecure people at the end of 2023.

The National Bureau of Statistics reported that food inflation, a significant driver of headline inflation, climbed by 51 basis points to 40.53% in April from 40.02% in March. Food inflation has over the years been driven by violent conflicts, including the insurgency in the North East; armed banditry in the Northwest; and perennial farmer–herder conflicts in the North Central and South West. Other factors driving food inflation include high input costs, poor implementation of agricultural policies, and high cost of transport.

Also, Climate change, in particular, the rising incidence and frequency of floods, has continued to affect food production and the availability and affordability of food. The continuous rise in food inflation has contributed significantly to the rise in the number of Nigerians living below the poverty line from about 89.8 million at the beginning of 2023 to 104 million, according to the World Bank’s most recent Nigeria Development Update report, underscoring the urgent need for a comprehensive and sustainable solution to Nigeria’s food crisis.

Sani Danladi, the Kano State chairman of the Tomato Out Growers Association of Nigeria (TOGAN), recently revealed that Tuta absoluta, a highly destructive pest affecting tomato crops, is the primary cause of soaring tomato prices across Nigeria. The pest saw a resurgence in February this year, exacerbating the situation. This issue is expected to continue driving food inflation, given that tomatoes are a staple in Nigeria. We advocate for proactive government measures, particularly in strengthening the country’s security infrastructure.

Creating a safer environment for farmers will boost food production and help prevent a potential food crisis. Such a crisis could have detrimental effects on the health of the working population and worsen the economic challenges facing the country.

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