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‘113m people face food insecurity’

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No fewer than 113 million people are experiencing high levels of food insecurity in the world, The Companion, an association of Muslim in Business and Professions National President, Alhaji Wale Sonaike, said on Wednesday.

Quoting the Global Report on last year’s Food Crisis, Sonaike said Nigeria was named as one of the eight countries most affected in the world.

“These eight countries accounted for two-thirds of the total number of people facing acute food insecurity, amounting to nearly 72 million people,” he quoted the report.

He spoke at a briefing on the forthcoming 4th National Discourse scheduled for Sunday at University of Lagos Main Auditorium now named J.F. Ade-Ajayi auditorium.

Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo will lead immediate past Governor of Osun State Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, a renowned expert in Agricultural-Engineering and former University of Uyo Vice Chancellor Prof Fola Lasisi, Prof Lateef Sanni of Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Coordinator, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Otunba Femi Oke as well as an expert in Animal Production from the University of Ilorin, Dr Hameed Badmos, among others dignitaries to the event.

Speaking on the theme: Food security: Unleashing Nigeria’s natural potential for self-sufficiency, Alhaji Sonaike said it is regrettable that Nigeria despite ranked as the highest producer of yam and cassava worldwide, is categorised as a food insecure nation with heavy reliance on importation of grains, livestock products and fish. “With a projected population of over 233 million by 2025, the concern for food security in the nearest future is palpable and calls for concern and immediate action by the populace and the government at all levels,” he said.

He said the association focus on food security for this year’s discourse “because food undoubtedly is the most basic of all human survival needs and the starting chain of the economy as well as the base for daily life.”

Food and agriculture by extension, he added, is also a fundamental pillar for economic growth and development as a nation can hardly achieve and sustain its economic growth without a strong agricultural base and the reasons are obvious.

“Nigeria has correctly identified food and agricultural production among others as one of the areas to focus on the growth and diversification of the economy. This has started to yield results to the extent that Nigeria has become the largest economy in Africa, yet ironically, the country is still categorised as one of the few countries with high incidents of extreme poverty. This is paradoxical and calls for an expert investigation. In the light of these, we felt that experts should be called together to engage in a meaningful discourse to proffer solutions,” he said.

Sonaike urged the federal government to take more drastic measures towards combating insecurity in the country, adding that incidents of community invasion, banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, among others have become so rampant that lives and property are no longer safe.

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“Millions of farmers have either been displaced from their farmlands or dispossessed of their farmland. All of these have a negative impact on food production and constitute a major threat to food security no matter the beauty of agricultural policy put in place.

“While we commend the government on the decision to recruit 10,000 police men , in a bit to combat this menace, it is unfortunate, however, that many years after this pronouncement; the recruitment is still in progress. What does it really take to recruit 10,000 policemen in the midst of millions of unemployed youth in the country? Those concerned should be called to order,” he said.

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