Women carry bags of maize at a farm in Northbank, Benue State, Nigeria on August 12, 2021. – Threatened by insecurity, farmers in Nigeria’s farm belt are increasingly abandoning their land, leading to supply problems and adding to the already high cost of food in Africa’s most populous country. (Photo by Kola Sulaimon / AFP)
Nearly 17 million Nigerians are projected to be either at crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity next year, according to a major report.
The investigation, the bi-annual Cadre Harmonise framework, is led by Nigeria’s Ministry of Agriculture with technical and financial support from the United Nations and NGOs.
Between October and December this year, more than 12.1 million Nigerians in 21 states were either at crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity, the report published on Friday stated.
That number is projected to increase to 16.8 million between June and August next year, it added.
The projected findings enable decision makers to better identify areas and population at risk of food insecurity and malnutrition, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
This year, the area with the highest number facing food insecurity — 144,914 people at emergency or crisis levels — was Borno state, in the northeast, where jihadists have waged a 12-year-long insurgency.
Military operations are ongoing in the region, but violence continues.
More than two million people have been displaced from their homes in the region, with many living in squalid camps where they depend on handouts.
Next year, the number of people experiencing emergency or crisis levels of food insecurity in Borno is projected to rise to 291,542 people.
In addition to the northeast insurgency, Nigeria is also battling unrest in its northwest and central states, where criminal gangs terrorise communities.
The oil-dependent economy of Africa’s most populous country was battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Slipping into its second recession in five years last year, Nigeria’s economy has bounced back to growth in recent months.
But inflation, especially food prices, remains high, plunging Nigerians further into poverty.