2 January 2013

Nigeria: Group Raises Alarm Over Worsening Food Crisis

Lagos — A faith-based, non governmental organization, the Christian Rural and Urban Development Association of Nigeria, (CRUDAN), has decried the worsening food crisis in sub-Saharan Africa, saying drastic actions have to be taken to mitigate the situation.

CRUDAN made known its concerns in a statement signed by its facilitator, Adewale Adeduntan, and made available to journalists in Lagos, saying food security is one of the most urgent issues facing the continent today because the sector is stagnant and the food production which is mainly subsistence-oriented, lags behind the already low growth of agriculture sector.

It noted that the problem in sub-Saharan Africa becomes worrisome because it has the lowest land and labour productivity rates in the world.

The group noted that one of the factors that must have triggered off the problem is the continuous marginalization of small scale farmers and women on issues related to accessibility of loans, fertilizers and other key developmental initiatives.

Other factors identified by the group include lack of adequate mechanism to organize, identify and distribute farm inputs such as fertilizer, pesticides, seedlings and other agro products to actual farmers, sharp practices and political patronage in the distribution of resources in the agricultural sector, among others.

The group added that if the problem is to be curtailed, certain actions have to be taken by governments and other concerned stakeholders, adding that, "support from governments, donors and international financial institutions are essential in promoting the transformation of farmers' practices

"Socioeconomic and policy environments must be created to enable farmers to invest in their soils and spur the private sector to invest in input and output market development. Direct investments by governments and donor agencies in soil fertility improvement should be part of the solution," a part of the statement read.

Also, CRUDAN recommended that the policy measures should be accompanied by efforts to improve soil fertility which must include addressing credit problems and land rights; improving and extending rural infrastructure, marketing, and distribution networks; increasing the effectiveness of extension services; and shifting government emphasis from consumer support to producer support. It stressed that the options remain the only attractive things to do if the tide is to be stopped.

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