When there is a disruption of food intake or eating patterns due to scarcity of resources or lack of cash, then there is food insecurity.
According to experts, food insecurity does not necessarily mean hunger, but hunger is a possible outcome of food insecurity.
At least 1.7 million people living in Lagos are food insecure despite a whopping N4.5 billion spent on food daily in the state.
Lagos is one of those cities that harbored the highest number of those who were food insecure, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation.
According to a report – Cadre Harmonise obtained by TechEconomy, there are a total of 1,780,194 people are food insecure in Lagos, the highest number among the 21 states in Nigeria.
Borno, Katsina, and Sokoto had 1,429,988; 1,200,906; and 1,027,646 food insecure people in their domains, as they joined in the top four ranking states with food-insecure citizens in Nigeria.
“There’s a lot of hidden hunger in Lagos, malnutrition, and people who don’t know where the next meal will come from,” says Michael Sunbola, Founder, Lagos Food Bank Initiative.
Lagos Food Bank is an organization that is using an integrated food-banking system to help improve the nutrition of pregnant women and children in Lagos and beyond.
The State only possesses a landmass of 3,345 square kilometers, the smallest in the country with over 20 million residents. It accounts for over 60 percent of industrial and commercial activities.
Generally, the crisis has plunged the country into food inflation. Inflation is soaring food prices, which could be correlated with a monetary downturn, which will contribute to the hunger crisis.
Residents of Lagos consume about N4.5 billion worth of food daily, according to State Government.
“Its residents consume about N4.5 billion worth of food daily and 50 percent of beef produced in the country running into several billion in other trading activities with markets cutting across all the local government areas in the state,” Sam Egube, Commissioner for Economic, Planning, and Budget said on Monday.
Amongst other things the Lagos State Government has done to fight food insecurity, is a partnership with the Kingdom of Netherlands to modernize farming.
With the collaboration, the state was supposed to benefit from the availability of good planting materials as well as farm equipment.
This kind of partnership will promote mechanized farming in Nigeria will aid agricultural productivity, thus reducing food insecurity. At least, over 90 percent of Nigerian farmers use manual farming methods.
“I assure you that the Lagos State Government is fully committed to achieving a food secured Lagos and Nigeria through a partnership with all national and sub-national entities as well as the private sector and international technical and donor organizations.”
Just like other states, Lagos is pressured by current realities to intensify efforts in fighting food insecurity. Tackling this challenge goes beyond organizing seminars and signing an MoU with different organizations.
Sunbola said funding, infrastructure, food wastes, policies, and human resources are big challenges to fighting food insecurity.
“Funding is a challenge because of the demands and the number of people in need of our interventions. And, of course, building infrastructure, human resource capacity to reach people, and funding plays a huge role.
“I would also say policies. If there are policies that help curb food waste, for instance, companies are not supposed to be throwing food away.
“I am saying this from what I know. Tonnes of food are being burnt. Materials that can be useful to most vulnerable people are being burnt when people are most in need.”
According to reports, Nigerian trashes at least 189 kilogrammes of food every year, amounting to a total of 37.9 million (37,941,470) tonnes of food every 12 months.
Another issue is the heightened insecurity in several regions of the country which is affecting the production of farm produce. Lagos State must lend its voice in ensuring that the menace is combated through a collective effort.