Between Armed Banditry, food insecurity and malnutrition in Nigeria.
In Nigeria, 2021 seems to be loaded with a lot of surprises and the security threat is just as visible as rivers Niger and Benue. In last couple weeks, kidnapping, and abduction for ransom were becoming increasingly incontrollable that no day without reports of such emanating. Farmers slaughtered, cattle rustled, crops stolen or wasted are all compounding woes of Nigerian peasants whose made greater percentage of food consumed in Nigeria. Apart from extreme weather, attacks on farmers and their farms by bandits will further degenerate nutritional availability for Nigerians. In essence, the Global Food Security Index (GFSI) 2019, ranked Nigeria 94th among 113 countries with 48.4% score. Although, this shows some progress compared to the 38.0% score in 2018 (GFSI 2018), more efforts is need to move above the average.
Farmers need to be assured that their farms will not turn to their graves and that rampaging attackers will not go unpunished. Farmers insecurity absolutely translates in food insufficiency and hunger and starvation are just on stand-by. However, with 7 percent of Nigerian women of reproductive age already malnourished (NDHS 2018), the Nigeria malnutrition for pregnant women and children may worsen if merchant of death is not tamed.
As we approach rain season of year 2021, there is no best time for government to protect lives and property of her farmers but now. How many clearances do farmers need to successfully access their workplace without fear of being mulled down? The Nigerian National Policy on Food and Nutrition as well as the National Strategic Plan of Action for Nutrition should be review to reflect the current reality of farmers vulnerability status and much attention on how to mitigate should be documented.
There can be no nutritional sustainability without farmers survival. With farmers are gradually becoming endangered species in Nigeria, bandits and other arsonists are putting every life in Nigeria on destructive path due to security carelessness. Recession and pandemic had dealt big blow on Nigerian fragile food ecosystem, adding assaults of farmers to the lexicon may lead to huge disaster for the country. Hence, another butts of hunger may snowball into tragedy at this precarious time of Nigeria nation.
Every actor, government, federal, States and local, civil societies, academics, development partners should come together and revamp the impeding food and nutrition disaster starring Nigerians on the face.
Contributed by MUSA, Aliyu
A nutrition advocate from Ilorin