FAO raises the alarm over severe malnutrition, food insecurity in 16 states

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations have the raised alarm over the low food consumption level and malnutrition in 16 states of the country.

Dr Louise Setshwaelo, the Country Representative of the organisation, stated this in Abuja at a stakeholder’s workshop to analyse the 2016 food and uutrition security situation in the nations 16 states.

Represented by Dr Rabe Isa-Mani, the Assistant FAO Representative in Nigeria, Setshwaelo said urgent assistance and intervention were needed from policy makers to tackle the problems.

The country representative noted that the situation would grow worse if nothing was done to address it within the next few years.

She listed the states affected to include Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina and Kebbi States.

While others are Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, Zamfara, Niger and Plateau States.

The country representative said the situation was reflected in the data gathered during a study conducted in the states between September 2015 and 2016.

Setshwaelo appealed to the Federal Government to address the plights of citizens in those states and make provisions for them in the 2017 budget.

“We started the study last year. We are able to do a focused one for the North East and now we have expanded the coverage to other eight states.

“We have moved from the extreme northern states to the middle belt. We are beginning to institutionalise the data collection and the analysis.

“The analysis gives you different levels of the vulnerability and to help policy makers make knowledge-based decisions.

“In addition to the food insecurity issue that was caused by insurgency, there are other food insecurity issues in the other parts of the country,” he said.

Dr Hanadan Mahalnoondon, the Coordinator, Permanent Inter-state Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), said that the 16 states assessed were affected by insurgency.

CILSS, an international organisation consisting of ECOWAS member states, conducted the study in collaboration with the FAO and other international organisations.

According to him, the study shows that the prices of staple food crops across the states are extremely high compared to five years ago due to inflationary pressure on the economy.

Mahalnoondon asserted that insecurity had led to low market functioning, low land cultivation and destruction of infrastructure in the affected states.

Dr Shehu Ahmed, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development, commended FAO, CILSS and other development partners for their assistance toward achieving food security in Nigeria.

Represented by Mr Kelvin Tekpat, the Director, National Programme for Food Security in the ministry, Ahmed said the Federal Government was doing everything within its powers to eradicate food shortages in the states.

He attributed shortage of food items in some states to the shrinking of the Lake Chad Basin.