The Federal Government raised the alarm on Tuesday that the current inflation of food prices across the country may drive more Nigerians into poverty unless appropriate measures were taken.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, expressed this concern in Abuja at the national workshop on the applications of Juncao technology and its contribution to the achievement of sustainable agriculture and Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, in Nigeria.
The workshop, organised by the African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD), was supported by the National Engineering Research Center for Juncao Technology of the Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University (FAFU) of China and Nigeria’s ministry of Agriculture.
The Agriculture Minister stated that the rise in food prices was not peculiar to Nigeria but a global issue occasioned mainly by climate change.
He explained that climate change had impacted negatively on agricultural production and was likely to pose grave threats to food security in the future.
Represented by the Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Abdullahi Abubakar, the minister said: “Food may become more expensive as climate change mitigation efforts increase energy prices.
“Water required for food production may become more scarce due to increased crop water use and drought. Competition for land may increase as certain areas become climatically unsuitable for production.
“In addition, extreme weather events, associated with climate change may cause sudden reductions in agricultural productivity, leading to rapid price increases.
“These rising prices may force growing numbers of local people into poverty, providing a sobering demonstration of how the influence of climate change can result in food insecurity.”
Abubakar observed that the Juncao technology had potential to boost the government’s efforts in making the best use of huge agricultural resources towards sustainable livelihood as enshrined in the SDGs’ charter.
“Holistic efforts are being made in recent times to address these multi-faceted challenges and unlock the potentials of the Nation’s livestock resources for increased employment opportunity, improved livelihoods and income, and we earnestly look ward to potential leverages the Juncao technology will provide to boost these efforts,” he added.
He also maintained that Nigeria was moving away from over-dependence on oil and diversifying into agriculture for sustenance, income generation and foreign exchange earnings.
In her remarks, the National Coordinator/Chief Executive Officer AUDA-NEPAD Nigeria, Gloria Akobundu, said Nigeria must harness the yet to be tapped possibilities in the agricultural sector to tackle the challenge of food insecurity.
She said though government was doing its best to alleviate poverty in the country, there was real danger of communities being exposed to insecurity, youth restiveness and malnutrition due to the nation’s population of over 200 million people.
Akobundu, nevertheless, said deliberate measures were being put in place to forestall these occurrences.
“In my view, one way of doing so is to domesticate the Juncao technology in Nigeria because it will create direct and indirect jobs, promote Agro Business, enhance nutrition, curb youth restiveness and boost security as youths will be gainfully engaged.
“We are concerned with ensuring food security in and to cushion the effect of COVID-19 towards building long-term resilience for sustainable economic growth and development. The Agency’s innovative strengthening of smallholder farmers’ capabilities towards productive land restoration amid COVID-19 was initiated to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic,” she added.