Federal Government has expressed concern over recent statistics by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), showing that 19.4 million Nigerians across 21 states and the Federal Capital Territory are food insecure.
The analysis carried out by FAO at the beginning of the year also revealed that two million children across the country suffer from severe acute malnutrition.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Abubakar, disclosed this in Abuja at a media briefing to kickstart the World Food Day celebration.
He stressed the need to be concerned over the current indices but urged Nigerians not to panic, saying the Federal Government is doing all it can to mitigate the food challenge.
He attributed the crisis to COVID-19 lockdowns, the Russia-Ukraine war, which has slowed the movement of raw materials, especially fertilizer, and flooding occasioned by climate change.
The minister said: “Some of you might think COVID-19 is gone but the havoc it wreaked in the last few years is still here. Up till today, a lot of supply chain routes have not opened up.
“I just came back from the United States. I have been to different supermarkets; you will see empty shelves because up till now, they have not been able to get all the raw materials they need.
“I flew over Panama in South America when I went to Brazil about five weeks ago. I saw tons and tons of ships at the Panama Canal, waiting to pass through to deliver supplies. So, the havoc caused by COVID-19 is still there.”
He, nevertheless, affirmed that there is no food shortage in the country, saying: “We know that we have some issues of insecurity. Production has dropped. But it is not significant enough that we should have a shortage of food. We don’t have shortage of food in Nigeria at this point. I want to make sure there is no shortage. But prices have risen.”
FAO Country Representative, Fred Kafeero, while speaking on the theme of the celebration, ‘Leave No One Behind: Better Production, Better Nutrition, a Better Environment and a Better Life, stressed the need to do more to reverse the trend of hunger and malnutrition.