80% Surge In Food Importation Alarming – FG
The federal government has declared that there was an alarming surge of over 80 per cent in food importation between 2019 and 2023.
The senior special assistant to the president on agribusinesses and productivity enhancement (SSAP), Dr. Kingsley Uzoma, made the disclosure at the National Policy Dialogue in Abuja.
The policy dialogue is tagged “Deepening Partnership for Scaling-Up of Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) for Smallholder Farmers in Nigeria.”
It was organised by the federal government, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the National Information and Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
He said no fewer than 88.5 million Nigerians were faced with insufficient food consumption, while the figure was projected to increase by six million in December.
He said the country had the highest rate of stunted children globally, adding that 70 per cent of the population lived below the poverty line and food inflation stood at 31.52 per cent in October.
“This escalating dependence on external sources further intensifies the challenges within the domestic food landscape all of which have resulted in the declaration of state of emergency in food security by Mr. President.
“The IFAD-financed programmes such as Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) and Livelihood Improvement and Family Enterprises Project for the Niger Delta (LIFE-ND), aim to enhance incomes and food security through sustainable practices and integration of ICT4D.
“These programmes involve tools such as the Mini-weather Station (NiMet) and Agriculture Market Information System (AIMS) to benefit farmers.
“However, challenges in data access, gender equality, infrastructure and technical support still exist,” he said.
He identified sustained efforts at digital literacy and collaboration by agencies and the private sector as critical in ensuring greater technology adoption by smallholder farmers.
Uzoma said such efforts could translate to improved productivity, extensive technical upscaling, promote best practices, increased trade competitiveness and market access.
“Increased collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and the NITDA is necessary to implement the National Digital Agriculture Strategy to further leverage technology for advancement of the agricultural sector.
“These aligned with the mandate of my office under the leadership of the vice-president which encompasses a multifaceted approach rooted in technology and innovation to ensure transformative change in Nigeria’s agricultural sector.”
In her remarks, the IFAD country director, Mrs. Dede Ekoue, said the dialogue was aimed at strengthening partnership for enhanced access of smallholder farmers to digital solutions.
According to her, the solutions will enhance their livelihoods, contribute to food security, nutrition, poverty reduction, economic growth and job creation. (NAN)