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Millions more Nigerians are facing food insecurity as imports surge by 80%

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Nigeria’s food imports have increased by an alarming 80% between 2019 and 2023, putting millions of Nigerians at risk of food insecurity.

The alarming rise in food imports was disclosed by Kingsley Uzoma, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Agribusinesses and Productivity Enhancement (SSAP), at the national policy dialogue on “Deepening Partnership for Scaling-Up of Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) for Smallholder Farmers in Nigeria” held in Abuja on Thursday.

The dialogue, organized by the federal government, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), highlighted the urgent need to address Nigeria’s food security crisis.

Uzoma revealed that 88.5 million Nigerians are currently facing insufficient food consumption, and this number is projected to increase by six million by December. He attributed the alarming rise in food imports to a decline in agricultural capacity, forcing the country to rely heavily on external food sources.

Nigeria currently has the highest rate of stunted children globally, and 70% of the population lives below the poverty line. The country’s food inflation rate reached 31.52% in October, further exacerbating the food security crisis.

To address these challenges, Uzoma emphasized the need to promote technology adoption among smallholder farmers through sustained efforts in digital literacy and collaboration among government agencies and the private sector.

He stated that increased technology adoption could lead to improved productivity, technical upscaling, promotion of best practices, increased trade competitiveness, and better market access for farmers.

Uzoma proposed a twin-pronged approach to address the food security crisis: Develop critical technology enabling infrastructure in partnership with the universal service provision fund and mobile network operators; and drive low-technology solutions such as USSD and WhatsApp to increase accessibility.

He also called for collaboration between the agriculture ministry and NITDA to leverage technology to advance the agriculture sector.

“This includes empowering one million women, youths and minorities to achieve food and nutritional sovereignty, ensuring food security and heightened agricultural productivity.

“It is also to achieve a 22 billion dollars import substitution of high-value crops like wheat, implement sustainable agricultural practices to promote environmental conservation and mitigate climate change,” he said.

The goal is to empower one million women, youths, and minorities to achieve food and nutritional sovereignty, ensuring food security and heightened agricultural productivity.

Dede Ekoue, IFAD country director, emphasized the importance of the dialogue in strengthening partnerships for enhanced access of smallholder farmers to digital solutions.

The dialogue highlighted the urgent need to address Nigeria’s food security crisis through a combination of increased agricultural productivity, technology adoption, and collaboration among stakeholders.

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