By Emmanuel Nduka
Worried by the continuous rise in the cost of food commodities, stakeholders in the food value chain have advised the Nigerian Government to declare a state of emergency on the nation’s food system, especially in the South Western part of the country.
Shakin Agbayewa, Deputy Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) Lagos State Chapter, lamented that prices of major agricultural products have increased tremendously, adding that declaring a state of emergency would allow the government focus more on the food sector and by extension, agriculture in general to address the situation which is gradually getting out of the reach of an average Nigerians.
“We should begin to look inward on how we can make food available at affordable prices. We have observed that most of the food that is on the high side and the ones being transported down from the North to the Southwest, especially beans.
“We can also plant those foods here to boost self-sufficiency. Right now, the price of beans has skyrocketed by over 400 per cent that people can no longer buy it. Government must pay attention to food security to boost self-sufficiency,” he said.
He further called on Government to give more support to farmers in the region, stressing that they have the capacity to cultivate beans to reduce the price and ensure availability.
“We have the soil, we have the land where we can plant these food items in the southwest, but all we need is support and an enabling environment. That is why we are advising them to declare a state of emergency in the region, if it is constitutional,” he said.
He listed high cost of transportation, multiple levies, insecurity, banditry and low production as major factors that are responsible for increase in prices of food items.
“Right now in the North, for farmers to go into their farmland, they have to pay bandits and during harvest, they will do the same thing. Bringing the food also from the north to the south is a major challenge because of multiple levies collected on the trucks. There are so many levies collected by federal, state and local governments.
“All these levies put together are being put on the produce and that is why the price of food is on the high side on a daily basis,” he added.
Similarly, Idowu Asenuga, Chairman, Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Ogun State Chapter, noted that the entire country is experiencing food insecurity and insufficiency.
“I have said it last year during one of my interviews that the food crisis this year will be worse and with the current disposition of government at all levels to agribusiness things can only get worse in 2022,” he noted.