Food Inflation Pushing Millions Of Nigerians Into Hunger, Poverty

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The prices of essential food items are rising beyond the reach of Nigerians and this situation is deepening hunger and dragging more people into poverty. Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown affected local food production and farm output, leading to economic instability and loss of jobs. Loss of means of livelihood for many Nigerians and slashed salaries for others have reduced their ability to buy basic food items, heightening hunger and thwarting cash transfer initiatives of the Nigerian authorities to households and businesses. Nigeria’s inflation rate has been galloping since last year and rose to a three-year high of 18.17 per cent in March 202?1?, according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) report published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). On a month-on-month basis, the Headline index increased by 1.56? per cent? in March 2021, this is 0.02 per cent points higher than the rate recorded in February 2021 (1.54 percent). The NBS report stated that food inflation soared to 22.95 per cent in March from 21.79 per cent recorded in the previous month. The rise in the food inflation was caused by increases in prices of bread and cereals, potatoes, yam, and other tubers, Meat, Vegetables, Fish, Oils and fats, and fruits. According to NBS, non-food items such as cost of transportation and medical services are also pushing up inflation in Nigeria. The bank had estimated that the poverty headcount rate or the national poverty line—would remain virtually unchanged at a little over 40 per, although the number of poor people would be set to rise from 82.9 million in 2019 to 90.0 million in 2022 due to natural population growth. However, due to the economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis, the national poverty rate was revised and projected to jump from 40.1 per cent in 2019 to 45.2 per cent in 2022, implying that 100.9 million Nigerians will be living in poverty by 2022. Data from the NBS National Longitudinal Phone Survey (NLPS) reinforced this prediction as it suggested that despite many Nigerians’ subsequently returning to work, many households’ incomes are lower than last year and they are more food insecure. Way Forward To cushion the effects of the ?COVID-19 crisis on the economy, the Nigerian government has helped many businesses to pay the salaries of 319,755 employees. Also, 265,425 beneficiaries received Artisan and Transport Support from the government while 172,129 business names were registered free by Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). However, this is not enough as many experts have advised the government to address insecurity in food-producing states in the country. The Director-General, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Segun Ajayi-Kadir, said the government should stimulate growth in agricultural output. He added that more support of the government is needed in the manufacturing sector to guarantee improved output and the reduced the intensity of too much money chasing after fewer goods. The DG called on the government to deliberately and partner with the productive sector to grow non-oil export. The impact of the epidemic is very extensive, leading to the most urgent need to solve the epidemic in society. As everyone worked together, the epidemic was gradually brought under control, and social order was gradually restored.

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