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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 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 the last couple of weeks, kidnapping and abduction for ransom were becoming increasingly uncontrollable that no day passed without reports of such emanating.

Farmers slaughtered, cattle rustled, crops stolen or wasted are all compounding the woes of Nigerian peasants whose effort produce the greater percentage of food consumed in Nigeria. Apart from extreme weather, the 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 per cent score. Although, this shows some progress compared to the 38.0 per cent  score in 2018 (GFSI 2018), more effort is needed 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 seven per cent of Nigerian women of reproductive age already malnourished (NDHS 2018), the Nigeria malnutrition for pregnant women and children may worsen if the merchants of death are not tamed.

As we approach the rainy season of 2021, there is no best time for government to protect lives and property of her farmers than now. How many clearances do farmers need to successfully access their workplace without fear of being mown down? The Nigerian National Policy on Food and Nutrition as well as the National Strategic Plan of Action for Nutrition should be reviewed to reflect the current reality of farmers’ vulnerability status and much attention on how to mitigate that should be documented.

There can be no nutritional sustainability without farmers survival. With farmers gradually becoming endangered species in Nigeria, bandits and other arsonists are putting every life in Nigeria on a destructive path due to security carelessness. Recession and pandemic have dealt big blows on the Nigerian fragile food ecosystem, adding assaults on farmers to the lexicon may lead to huge disaster for the country.  Hence, another bout of hunger may snowball into tragedy at this precarious time of Nigeria nationhood.

Every actor, government, federal, states local and civil societies, academics, development partners should come together and curb the impending food and nutrition disaster staring Nigerians on the face.

Musa Aliyu is a nutrition advocate in Ilorin

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