Editorial

The food alarm by bishops

Anglican Bishops in the Ecclesiastical Province of Owerri have raised a timely alarm on a food crisis which is not imminent but already here. This shows their sensitivity to the people’s welfare and their plight as well. This is how it should be. It is very commendable.
We stand firm behind this important reminder that calamity lurks in the shadows and that hundreds of thousands of lives are being lost through a shameful, yet preventable thing as starvation. We want to think that Nigeria can feed its entire population without exception.
We would however additionally admit there is general feeding crisis in the country, to make the problem more appreciable and comprehensible. Feeding is the greatest existential problem faced by 80% of Nigerians as confirmed by world investigators. The number could be much higher. In this, both the quality and quantity of food consumed by individuals are poor. People feed on miserable rations, which reduce their immunity and resistance to diseases and lead to death after brief illness. Nigerian children don’t eat enough food to make them grow well. Most of them are stunted.
But how serious has this timely warning been taken?
We are not certain the alarm has been noted and that anything will be done, which makes the bishops’ prompting look like a false alarm. No, it is not a false alarm. We are therefore backing it strongly and fully, and calling for it to be heeded without delay.
The alarm was raised in good time, as traditional farming activities are about to begin in earnest. Farmers will need funding, increased manpower and improved seedlings for various crops. All these are the duty of government to supply.
Fortunately, all conditions for bumper harvests are perfect in this state. We don’t have famine, draught or adverse climatic conditions that can impede productivity in the food sector. What are lacking are the government’s will, initiative, zeal and a policy. The policy should include incentives for all food producers. Finally, the reality that food shortages have assumed tragic proportions must be recognized. To give it the needed attention, it should be at the front burner in current political discussions and debates. Political parties and voters must ensure that only candidates who proffer viable solutions to the problem should pass through the Primaries and general elections next year. Away with the careless attitude to the food situation. It is a calamity that can consume all of us whether rich or poor.

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