Food Security is very critical for the socio-economic development growth of any country. In Nigeria, the current state of a high reliance on food imports, erratic food supply, and supply shocks due to crisis, for instance in the North and the high costs of food reveals the vulnerability of the country to food insecurity. We have to find a way to improve that. There are impliedly several gaps to tackle; last-mile, supply side, distribution, marketplace, logistics, and others. There is also the lack of infrastructure, limited rural development, credit, and land for farming. A key challenge across the entire food chain is the lack of resources to modernize our current agricultural production process. We need to adopt technology and mechanization more, as, without technology, we would not be able to increase productivity. Our value chains need to be integrated.
A significant challenge is our lack of manufacturing firms that can process raw materials into value-added products. For instance, the Birds Eye Chili is grown in West Africa, yet it is exported to countries that process it and turn it into products like chili extracts, oleoresin peppers, and other flavours used to make hot chili sauces; this is then sold back to West Africa at a higher cost value. The Nigerian ginger is the most dynamic in the world as its attributes are many. Yet we export the raw ginger which is transformed outside the continent and used for commercial products that are sold back to us. Without value-adding firms, we cannot guarantee food security.
Thanks to inadequate storage systems, inaccessible road networks and dysfunctional agricultural value chains, 50% (230 million tonnes) of agricultural produce is wasted in Sub-Saharan Africa annually. For Nigeria and the rest of Africa to improve its food security, it has to urgently tackle these issues.
COVID-19 has impacted almost all industries, some positively, some inversely. How has COVID-19 impacted food security in Nigeria?
One of the major economic implications of COVID-19 is the weakened levels of food security in many countries. Global hunger numbers that were already dire before the outbreak of COVID-19, underline how desperate the situation has become. World hunger had been rising before the pandemic, increased significantly: for instance, the World Food Programme (WFP) estimated the number of undernourished people in the 35 countries within which it works increased a whopping 60 percent within a year, from 177m to over 296m. With its vulnerable agricultural food chain, several countries in Africa were severely affected by the pandemic, with huge supply chain disruptions. In Nigeria, food insecurity in Nigeria has been aggravated by myriad factors, including communal conflicts, the presence of militant groups like Boko Haram, violent clashes between herders and farmers, and COVID-19.
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