From a whopping 845 million in 2006, the number of people living with chronic hunger and malnutrition has jumped to 923 million in 2007, and currently the estimate of FAO stands at over 1.2 billion people of which sub-Saharan Africa occupies a significant proportion at 265 million, in Nigeria, the hunger figure stands at over 85 million people. While on the other hand, the number of obese children and adult in developed countries has surpassed one billion in total. I call this a "situational irony of statistics".
For Nigeria, food production as at 2007 was in total of over 100 million tonnes, cassava= 40,179,000 tonnes, Yam = 29,587,000 tonnes, and sorghum= 10,028,000, tonnes, comparatively, in Ghana total production of yam was slightly over 5,558, 000 tonnes while cassava was slightly over 10, 000, 000 tonnes, and yet, the cost of Yam and cassava in Ghana is way cheaper to the cost of those commodities in Nigeria. Again, I'll call this a "situational irony of costs".
These two situational ironies lead us to the following causal questions; Where is the economic principle of mass production? Where are the 100 million tonnes of sorghums and cassava and yams with millets, plus cocoa and maize that Nigeria produced? Why is Nigeria the highest producer of cassava and yet "Garri" cannot be afforded by every sikira and every sikiru? Why is yam so costly that it is only a Sunday meal on the table of less than 45% of Nigerian homes? Where are the millions and billions pumped into Nigeria's Agricultural sector over the past 10 years? Why has our food economy not improved? Why did President Yardua promised food security in his 7 point agenda and nothing is yet to write home about? Why is Thailand the highest supplier of Cassava to the international market when Nigeria is the highest producer? Why does Ghana supply more Yam abroad than Nigeria the highest producer?
You and I can keep asking why? Why is budget implementation from local to federal tears of government between 45 to 70%? Why does Agricultural budget stand below 3% in comparison with education, health and others even in the face of increased revenue from oil boom? Why does 60% of our budget concentrate only on few areas, while other crucial areas are been ignored?
These are the underlying questions that stand to be asked as to the poor state of food security in Nigeria. But first, without mincing words, the problem of food security in Nigeria is caused by the government. Here are the reasons.
(1) The Nigerian government has spent considerably less than 10% of its annual budget on Agriculture as agreed in the Maputo 2003 agreement.
(2) Over the past 10 years since the new advent of democracy, only on very few occasions has over 40% of the total budgeted allocation been spent.
(3) The government have not provided the infrastructural system that enables the supply chain and value chain to function effectively
(4) Till present, only a very small portion of the national grain storage system has been constructed, therefore provoking more post harvest waste
(5) Funds from donor-assistant institutions such as the World Bank, Afdb etc, are not well documented and often misappropriated, and in-fact our government can hardly account for the billions of grants of World Bank grants over the last 10 years.
(6) Land ownership and tenure system is still a major issue and the federal government and state governments have not come out with clear action plan and implementation of a sustainable land tenure system
(7) Over 90% of budget is spent on food production and virtually none on marketing, storage, packaging and preservation
In-fact, if this were an academic paper, we can keep providing evidence, while naming and discussing how the present and past governments of Nigeria have underdeveloped the agricultural situation of our country, how some present and past policies have been formulated to augment the successes of some political affluent, how over 60% of Nigerian commodities that is shipped abroad is sourced from farms of Nigeria's richest gangs, how state owned funds have gone into private hands. Etc.
But one thing, it is time for the common Nigerian to take his future into his own hands, it is time, when the farmers should form themselves into real solid and unbreakable clusters and cooperatives that can stand the real test of time, it is time, when farmers must realize that they must think of alternative ways of generating their own water and electricity to feed their plants and power their small mechanical engines, it is time, when we Nigerians must form ourselves into investment partners and venture into commercial farming and other interesting areas of Agri-business, if we truly want quality foods at affordable prices, it is time, when the Nigerian thinkers, entrepreneurs and designers must come together to operationalize the best home made storage systems that will enable us to store our yam and cocoa from one season to another, it is time, when all of us should come together, to define innovative market systems that can help us make money, feed our family and at the same time, help our farmers to take their product to market.
It is time we forget that we have a government that cannot produce 6000 mega watts of electricity, yet wants to be amongst the nations that generate 70, 000 megawatts in 10 years, it is time, that young graduates against all economic odds define their own legitimate path of success, it is time, when we must not only be thinking about growing but, preserving, packaging and marketing, it is time that every farms and poultries and hatcheries start to use their own wastes to enhance their own production either by reclying or by re using.
To achieve food security, waiting for the present day government will be tantamount to waiting to see the crab fall asleep in its own abode ( Eda to n reti ati sun akon leti omi, aduro di ojoo iku ni).
In conclusion, the future of food security lies in the hands of willing and venturesome Nigerians who are ready to take the destiny of their future and their children into their own hands, by taking those bold individual steps, that even the government of "baba go slow" will not dare take, even when given another four years chance.
For now I rest my case.
God Bless Nigeria