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June 21, 2024

 Food Security Crisis: 31 Million Nigerians at Risk of Acute Hunger by August  

The federal government has revealed a critical food security crisis, with an estimated 31 million people expected to face severe food and nutrition shortages by August 2024.

This alarming situation was disclosed during a presentation by Wale Edun, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, who introduced the Accelerated Stabilisation and Advancement Plan (ASAP). 

The plan is designed to address key challenges impacting reform initiatives and to stimulate development across various sectors of the economy.

“Thirty-one million people are projected to be food insecure by August 2024,” stated a draft of the ASAP presented by Edun.

Food prices in Nigeria have been rising steadily over the past few years, forcing Nigerians to spend more of their disposable income on food.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), food now accounts for 56.65% of Nigeria’s total household expenditure. The NBS also reported that the food inflation rate in April 2024 reached 40.53%, the highest since 1996.

A major factor contributing to this crisis is the widespread insecurity that has plagued farmers across Nigeria.

Kidnappings and other security issues have forced many farmers to abandon their fields, significantly reducing the nation’s food supply and driving up food prices.

The average prices of essential staples like rice, garri, and tomatoes have seen unprecedented increases. For example, the price of rice jumped by 156% from N547 in April 2023 to N1,399 in April 2024, while garri prices increased by 135% from N363 to N852 over the same period.

Recall that in 2023, UNICEF warned that 25 million Nigerians were at risk of hunger, citing insecurity as a key driver of this dire situation.

In response to this, the government has outlined several measures to improve food security. These include training farmers in climate-smart techniques, auditing the National Seed System, providing inputs via an e-wallet system, and increasing fertilizer use to 25kg per hectare.

Additionally, the government plans to develop the capacity of tractor operators, farmers, and service providers, and to open up 30,000 hectares of new irrigable land for dry-season farming, among other interventions.

However, the ASAP initiative represents a comprehensive approach to addressing the pressing food security challenges facing Nigeria, aiming to stabilize and advance the nation’s agricultural and economic sectors.

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