By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan.
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) on Thursday alerted that 2.1 million children between ages one to five have being discovered to be malnurished in Nigeria.
Also, it stated that 53 of the 100 under-five deaths recorded in Nigeria especially in North Central, North East and North West are caused by malnutrition.
A consultant to CISLAC Dr. David Olayemi raised the alarm in Ibadan at a One Day Capacity Building Workshop for Legislative Reporters on Legislative and Policy Advocacy in Agriculture, Nutrition and Health in Nigeria”
Represented by the CISLAC Senior Program Officer (MDGs, Gender, Reproductive Health and Anti-corruption), Ms Chioma Kanu, he said going by the UNICEF record, of the 2.1million malnurished children, 1.7 million cases were recorded in the North East, North West and the North Central parts of Nigeria.
The Consultant in the presentation titled “Current situation of food and nutrition in Nigeria,” maintained that in the country for now, cases of malnutrition accounted for 53 percent of the death of children under the age of 5 years.
“Malnutrition contributes 53% of the deaths in children of under 5 children in Nigeria. Malnutrition is a contributory cause of half of under-five deaths in Nigeria. Food insecurity is closely linked to hunger and malnutrition, whilst malnutrition is the most serious consequence of food insecurity,” he said.
Dr Olayemi stressed that with the situation at hand, government should without wasting time, inaugurate food and nutrition council and properly finance it without delay as a way of curtailing the disturbing trend, adding that the time has also come for the three tiers of government in Nigeria to “ensure development of costed plan for Nutrition or Inauguration of National/state Food and Nutrition council/Board or Financing Food and Nutrition.
“The lack of food is the most critical dimension of poverty and is one of the MDG indicators. Children from the poorest economic quartile are 4 times more likely to be malnourished than children from the richest households. Total average household expenditure on food for the period between 2009 and 2010 was about 65% (NBS, 2012)”.
Another expert in agriculture, Mrs. Mope Omotoso of the Patra Consult in her paper titled “Exploring existing agricultural programs, policies, legal instruments and agricultural practices in Nigeria” emphasized the need for dedication of farmlands for the production of various agricultural products across the country.
Mrs Omotoso in the presentation listed parts of the challenges facing agricultural production in Nigeria to include Inconsistency/incompatibility of regional policies/programs with the national policies/programs, inadequate or poor funding of agriculture by banks, Land Use challenges and conflicts and uncompetitive global practices limiting export trade.
Speaking on the way out of the present food and agricultural products deficit in Nigeria, she urged state governments in the country to borrow a leave from Lagos state where some hectares of farmlands were dedicated for fish, vegetables and other farm produce.
Mrs Omotoso then tasked Nigerian government to put an Agricultural Law in Place, Recourse to strategic planning and use of Agricultural Bill passed into laws to address most of the problems, saying,”a synthesis of the programs and policies into one Agricultural plan document would improve interaction between all stakeholders”
“Strengthen policy formulation for the long term remove conflicts between the programs, projects and different tiers of government, compliance to 10% budgetary allocation to agriculture. Address Agricultural growth with long term strategic plans, address corruption headlong: The political leadership MUST take a fontal and deliberate against action delay, embezzlement, misappropriation and lack of fund. Revolutionize Agricultural Finance and Development- Build a pro rural agric finance structure- BOA, SMEDAN, BOI.
“Create enabling environment- Create Monetary and fiscal conditions- Low interest rate, low inflation and favorable tax regimes ideal for Agriculture. Increased access to finance by mandating banks to make 20% of funds available for Agriculture. Provide Infrastructure e.g. power, roads, water, telecommunications investing in core public goods shall build enabling environment and enterprise.
By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan.