Reps ask FG to declare state of emergency on production of staple foods
• Alarmed by UN report on 13m citizens facing acute food insecurity
The House of Representatives, on Thursday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency on staple food production, just as they expressed grave concerns over the activities of terrorist groups on food production and imposition of taxes on farmers.
The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon Sani Bala, who drew the attention of the House to the recent report of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (UN-FAO) which projected that an estimated 13 million people in Nigeria would face the risk of acute food insecurity in the next few months.
In his lead debate, Hon Bala who expressed concern over the rising prices of food-stuff in the country observed that the UN-FAO report “reveals that the number of people in critical or worse phases of food insecurity may increase to about 16.9 million unless efforts are made to provide adequate support and government intervention to ensure recovery and resilience.
“The House is aware that government has promoted massive agricultural development in recent times leading to the closure of borders against the importation of some staple food in order to encourage adequate local production and food sufficiency.
“The House is concerned that agricultural activities, production and its overall development in the country have been adversely affected by insurgency and banditry activities, especially in the northern parts, where bandits have taken over farmlands; cultivated farmlands and agricultural produce are burnt and destroyed; farmers have stopped going to their farmlands for fear of being killed or kidnapped and in some other instances, farmers are taxed by bandits to access their farmlands.
“The House is also concerned that in addition to insecurity, the advent of the deadly covid-19 pandemic has also contributed immensely to reducing agricultural production activities in the country.
“The House is further concerned that the impact of COVID-19 alone has occasioned severe and widespread increases in global food insecurity, thereby, affecting vulnerable households in almost every country, with impacts expected to continue into 2022 and possibly beyond.
“The House is disturbed that the increasing rate of global food insecurity has caused countries like China to adopt an Action Plan on saving food, which signals the imperativeness of guarding our relatively diminishing harvest of food produce.
“The House is alarmed that, despite signals of impending global food shortages, the daily illegal movement of 40 to 50 trucks of millet, maize, guinea corn, etc., out of the country to neighbouring countries, further depletes Nigeria’s food bank and is an attempt to increase the woes that may result from the food crisis,” he noted.
To this end, the House urged Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, direct relevant agencies to forestall further smuggling of grains out of the country to neighbouring countries.
While urging the present administration to increase efforts of massive food storage in nationwide silos in the attempt to join other nations to save food for the future, the House mandated its joint committees on Agriculture Production and Services, Customs and Excise as well as Commerce to ensure compliance.
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