World Hunger Day: Nigerian farmers appeal for government support

A farmland used to tell the story
A farmland used to tell the story

Every day, many across the globe struggle to feed themselves and their children.

According to the World Food Programme, in a world where enough food is produced to feed everyone, 821 million people – one in nine of the world population – still go to bed on an empty stomach each night.

Even more – one in three – suffer from some form of malnutrition.

World Hunger day is celebrated on May 28 every year. It was launched by The Hunger Project in 2011.

It is aimed to inspire people all over the world to show their solidarity and support for the women, men and children who are ending their hunger and poverty.

In a bid to mark this day, PREMIUM TIMES spoke with some farmers on how they can support the need for more food to be available for the hungry.

Many of the farmers interviewed advised President Muhammadu Buhari to assist the agricultural sector through funding and sound policies.

Voices

A farmer, Mary Isiaya, said the Nigerian government has failed to invest substantially in the small scale farmers who provide food for the nation.

She accused the government of investing in the ‘established’ farmers who export their produce to other countries.

Ms Isiaya also said farmers in Nigeria are faced with the challenge of inadequate information from the government.

“We did not hear of climate change; we did not know the rains will come early and leave early. Most farmers have cultivated and will end up losing their produce,” she said.

She said the produce from the small scale farmers is very little because ”they lack inputs from the government.”

”They sell at cost price and are left with little or nothing for the next farming season,” she said.

The Managing Director, A&D Integrated Farms, Abdullahi Bello, also urged President Buhari to give more priority to agriculture ”to ensure the eradication of poverty and hunger in the country.”

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He said that federal, states and local governments need to put in more funds into agriculture for local consumption and exportation.

“We know that this administration has been supporting the sector from the beginning of the tenure, and we are happy that they are continuing, which will make them build more on what they have done.

“They should also look out for where there are loopholes so that they can make necessary adjustments where needed.

“We are all hungry in this country because many things they have been saying about agriculture have not been done. We need to be self-sufficient by feeding ourselves comfortably and export for foreign exchange,’’ he said.

Mr Bello said that some commodities were given ‘more priority’ than others because of ”the political and personal interest of some people.”

He said all the commodities produced locally should be given the needed priority.

“The small-holder farmers that produce more than 70 per cent of what we consume in this country need to be supported as well.

“They need support in terms of land, inputs, fertilisers, assess to loan and capacity building to make them perform and remain in the sector.”

Another farmer, Donald Akule, said hunger is the root cause of poverty.

He said agriculture should be enhanced so that youth, women and retirees can participate fully.

”Agribusiness has become interesting to the populace,” he said.

Mr Akule called for sensitisation of Nigerians on the need to contribute to the fight against hunger.

Global Blight

According to the National Research Council, world hunger refers to hunger aggregated to the global level. Related terms include food insecurity and malnutrition.

Food insecurity refers to limited or unreliable access to foods that are safe and nutritionally adequate.

Malnutrition, which is an offshoot, is a condition resulting from insufficient intake of biologically necessary nutrients.

Although malnutrition includes both overnutrition and undernutrition, the focus for global hunger is undernutrition.

The vast majority of hungry people live in lower-middle-income regions, which saw a 42 per cent reduction in the prevalence of undernourished people between 1990–92 and 2012–14.

Children and Hunger

Children are the most visible victims of undernutrition.

The World Health Organisation estimates that undernutrition is a cause of 3·1 million child deaths annually or 45 per cent of all child deaths in 2011.

Undernutrition magnifies the effect of every disease, including measles and malaria.

The estimated proportions of deaths in which undernutrition is an underlying cause are roughly similar for diarrhoea (61 per cent), malaria (57 per cent), pneumonia (52 per cent), and measles (45 per cent).

Undernutrition can also be caused by diseases, such as those that cause diarrhoea, by reducing the body’s ability to convert food into usable nutrients.

For now, nations such as Nigeria will have to continue churning out relevant policies and strengthening those in place to reduce the number of persons who go hungry daily.

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