The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has raised alarms, indicating that approximately 26.5 million Nigerians in Borno, Sokoto, and Zamfara States, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), could face a severe food crisis between June and August 2024. This revelation was made by Dominique Kouacou, the FAO country representative, during the presentation of the October to November round of the Cadre Harmonise food security and early warning analysis in Abuja.
Kouacou, represented by Dr. Abubakar Suleiman, Assistant FAO representative, Programme, highlighted that this impending crisis follows an unusual lean season marked by multiple challenges, including persistent insecurity due to insurgency and banditry. Other contributing factors include natural resource-based conflicts, soaring food and agricultural input prices due to high inflation, and severe dry spells in some states immediately after the onset of rains.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, emphasized the significance of the analysis, which was conducted and validated by skilled professionals of the Cadre Harmonise (CH) analysis task force over the past two weeks. He acknowledged the challenging environment, attributing the crisis to global factors such as the lingering impact of COVID-19 on the economy, the Russia-Ukraine war disrupting food systems and inflating input prices, and the removal of petroleum subsidy leading to food inflation and increased consumer prices.
Umakhihe further noted that environmental and human factors, including climate change, displacements due to insecurity, and seasonal flooding, have compounded the situation, affecting food consumption patterns and forcing a sizable population in Nigeria to resort to irreversible coping strategies.
Despite the daunting challenges, Umakhihe assured that the ministry is committed to leading and supporting the CH process in Nigeria. He also revealed plans to mainstream all 36 states of the country in the CH analysis before the end of 2024, underscoring the government’s determination to address the impending crisis and ensure food security for the nation.