Africa grapples with severe food insecurity, Speaker Abbas urges legislative solutions

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Abbas Tajudeen, Ph.D, has expressed concern over the disproportionate burden of food insecurity borne by Africa, as he addressed the ongoing 18th Commonwealth Speakers’ and Presiding Officers’ Conference (CSCOP) in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

In his address titled “Addressing Challenges of Food Security in Africa by Promoting Investment in Agriculture,” Speaker Abbas emphasized that Africa faces the heaviest crisis of global food insecurity. He highlighted the alarming statistics, stating that one in every five Africans goes to bed hungry daily, and an estimated 140 million out of Africa’s one billion population suffers from acute food insecurity.

Various factors contribute to this dire situation, as the Speaker pointed out. Armed conflicts, ranging from different forms and magnitudes, disrupt agricultural activities, leading to crop and livestock destruction and preventing farmers from accessing their lands. Climate change, exacerbated by extreme weather conditions, also plays a significant role in diminishing agricultural productivity. Additionally, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising population, subsistence farming, crude agricultural practices, lack of access to credit, poor infrastructure, and inadequate investment in agri-business further compound the challenges.

Drawing attention to the Nigerian case, Speaker Abbas highlighted how activities of Boko Haram in the North Eastern region contributed to rising food insecurity by displacing farmers and disrupting agricultural activities for several years. He also underscored the tensions between herders and farmers, linked to the impact of climate change, which led to conflicts over grazing areas and the destruction of farmlands and livestock.

The Speaker emphasized that the legislature could play a pivotal role in addressing these issues. Through legislation, parliaments can create a conducive environment for investment in agribusiness, provide access to land, credit, and incentives, and promote climate-proof agricultural practices like greenhouse farming. Oversight powers can ensure that funds appropriated for infrastructural development are effectively utilized.

Speaker Abbas referenced Nigeria’s efforts, pointing out some existing laws that promote agriculture and investments in the sector, such as the Agricultural Seeds Act, the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund Act, and others aimed at controlling and regulating importation, research, and sea fisheries.

He concluded by stating that Nigeria’s ease of doing business policy has resulted in legislative support for citizens, particularly in agriculture, and highlighted the success of the Anchor Borrowers scheme, which encouraged investments in the agricultural sector.

The conference attendees commended Speaker Abbas’s address and agreed on the significance of legislative action in combating food insecurity in Africa. As the conference continues, participants are expected to collaborate on innovative strategies to alleviate the pressing food crisis on the continent.

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