A country struggling to feed itself – By Kene Obiezu


If the question of whether Nigerians live in pitiful poverty is posed to the world and answers are demanded, beginning of course with Nigerians themselves who will be subjected to scrutiny by such a question, the answers will also vary. strongly that opinions will be divided.

On the one hand, there will be Nigerians who would be overwhelmingly positive that poverty is a heartbreaking feature of daily life in the country. On the other hand, the international community will spotlight international organizations that would use data to show that too many Nigerians are too poor to be comfortable. According to World Bank estimates, 91 million Nigerians languish below the poverty line. Nigeria’s population is projected to reach 216 million by November 2022. Simple arithmetic would yield numbers to back up those who argue that the behemoth of Africa remains shockingly one of the poverty capitals of the world.

But there would always be those who argue on the government side that millions of Nigerians have been lifted out of poverty in the past two years. These polemicists would couple their arguments with conclusions that many more Nigerians should be lifted out of poverty.

A sad reality

But what is the reality on the ground? In August 2022, inflation in Nigeria hit a 17-year high. This invariably results in countless tables empty of food. There are countless families who no longer have the means to feed themselves. It’s poverty that works in numbers. It is an extremely difficult situation indeed.

As the many daunting challenges facing Nigeria as a country continue to emerge, the country’s standard of living and quality of life continues to decline sharply, forming the stuff of many Nigerian nightmares.

The symbiosis between insecurity and poverty in the country has left many Nigerians breathless. Hunger has become a heartbreaking reality as conflicts manifesting in different forms unite to conjure up some of Nigeria’s worst nightmares.

A heartbreaking revelation

Agriculture sector stakeholders recently revealed that 84% of Nigerians cannot afford a healthy diet or even three meals a day. Stakeholders attributed this to insecurity, climate change, microeconomic challenges and the recent war between Ukraine and Russia. Stakeholders spoke at a conference titled “Sahel Food Systems Changemakers” on the theme “Tackling the Nigerian Food Crisis: Ensuring Resilience and Sustainability in the Agrifood Landscape”.

The conference, which drew much-needed attention to the hunger plaguing the Giant of Africa as the country struggles to feed itself, stressed the need to tackle the insecurity that has contributed to around 30 to 40 percent of observed hunger in the country, and the need to use technology to transform the Nigerian food landscape.

On January 27, 2022, the World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations had in a report highlighted twenty hotspots of hunger in the world. According to the report, conflict, economic shocks, natural hazards, political instability and limited humanitarian access have put millions of lives at risk. The situation in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Yemen and Nigeria was particularly described as dire.

Perhaps the most telling sign of Nigeria’s decline as a country is that there is hardly a gloomy report across the world that does not highlight Nigeria. Whether in the list of the most terrorized countries on earth, or in the chronicle of the most dangerous countries for Christians in the world, or in the company of the poorest countries in the world, Nigeria ranks high.

Why wouldn’t Nigerians find it difficult to feed themselves? In many communities in the northeast and northwest of the country where agriculture is the air they breathe, ruthless bandits have made farms inaccessible.

It has only been a few months since bandits in Maradun Zamfara state massacred seven farmers who defied their warnings not to go to their farms.

With all that Nigerians have been through in the past two years, the remarkable resilience that the country and its people have shown reflects a quiet strength and dignity that is uniquely Nigerian.

Kene Obiezu,

Twitter: @kenobiezu


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