Expert seeks annual budgetary allocations for food security * laments poverty, hunger in the land Stephen Olufemi Oni, Ilorin

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A call has gone to the federal and state governments to make substantial annual budgetary allocations for food security towards ensuring food sufficiency in the country.

A Veterinarian and Food Security Advocate, Dr Hameed Nuru of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) made the call while delivering the University of Ilorin’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine maiden annual lecture in honour of a former Deputy Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University and first Professor from Ilorin Emirate in Kwara State, Prof. Saka Nuru .

Hameed Nuru, who is the Director of the African Union Global Office and Representative to the African Union and Economic Commission for Africa, lamented that Nigerians are currently spending an astronomical 65 percent of their income on food.

Describing the situation as unacceptable, the food expert said the globally acceptable spending on food is between five and six percent of an individual’s income.

He disclosed that Nigeria is predicted to have about one million malnourished children, replica of the situation in Somalia, this year, reminding the government that all forms of security start with food security, since food consumption is not an option but a must.

“Government should come up with policies that would make citizens have access to food. It’s undignifying to always hand over food to people without developing their economic capacity to be able to access the food themselves”, he said.

The Guest Lecturer, who opined that there would never be a future in the country without food security, added that, “It’s not the oil, and not the diamond, but food security that can guarantee Nigeria’s future”, adding that food security is linked with national security.

He also suggested that Nigeria government and people should prioritise and promote the nation’s indigenous food against processed and imported food, saying that about $60.8 billion was used by African countries to import food annually.

“Africa should move away from agriculture for the stomach to agriculture for wealth. Africa should strengthen agriculture production to address food security,” he admonished.

He also advised that government policy should attract more youths into the agricultural sector, saying that “the sector will have to be more attractive and lucrative, especially commodities, markets, transport, storage, processing, links etc.

“Encouraging and supporting the African Free Continental trade agreement: Food commodities should be the primary
focus. Regional and continental trade of food and other products such as minerals should be encouraged,” he counseled.

Nuru said that WFP’s response and interventions encompassed food assistance, nutrition, resilience, capacity strengthening, logistics, and UNHAS.

“WFP is prioritising its operations to reach 1.1 million vulnerable people every month in northern Nigeria. Those receiving assistance include displaced people living in camps or host communities, as well as vulnerable members of host
communities and people returning home after months of displacement.

“WFP has targeted 2.6million beneficiaries in 2024 and was able to support 1.3million beneficiaries in the first quarter of 2024,” he added.

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