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SATURDAY PUNCH, June 4 , 2011

Page 4

NEWS

Rising global food prices may worsen Nigeria's lot - Investigation Bosede Olusola·Obasa

he Nigeria n government musl step up action towards ill sustainable food production policy o r the prices of staple food items may soon be out o f reach fo r the average income earner, an investigation has shown. In fact, Oxlam a British aid agency, warned in a recent report entitled, 'Growing a Belter Future: that the prices of staple foods would more than double in 20 years un less world leaders took an action to reform the global food system -By 2030, the average cost of key crops will increase by betwi!en 120 per cent and ISO per cent," said the charily forecast posted by the British Broadcasting Corporation. Unfriendly climatic change, unrest in the Middle·East, North Africa and the tsu nami in Japan, are factors found to have contributed to the volatility in food prices on the global scene. Countries that depend more on importation may be more vulnerable as exporting countries may institute a ban on food elCports. MHigh food prices are a problem for poor countries that have to import a lot of food 10 feed their popula tions; countJies lhat already have high inllation: limited foreign currency reserves and if their local currenclus are d epreciating against the US dollar. "The World Bank says tha t 44 million people have fallen inlo extreme poverty and hunger in developing countries as a T2$U1t of the food price increases since last Ju ne," the World Food Programme said. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation global food price index reached a historic' peak of 237 points last February, above the

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• Threats of export ban imminent peak of 213.5 reached in 2008. In March, it dropped slighUy to 230, after falls in the price of oil and sugar. The seaelary o f FAO's In tergovernme ntal Group on Grains. Abdolreza Abbassian, said dryness and delays to plantings in Europe and the US could cause more production problems in the 2011· 12 nop year, wi th the world cereal stocks fo recast to fall to their iov.oest levet since the food crisis o f 2008. FAD believes that wheal price inaeases are likely to d ip in the coming months as tensions in North Africa delay im ports and dampen global demand. Egypl is the world's largesl wheat importer. Just a few months ago in Nigeria. then! was a significant inCTl!ase in the price of bread, a stable lood lor many homes. And like many others like rice and grains, findings show that except the trend is reversed, bread may soon become a scarce commodity. A loaf of sliced bread sold for between N 120 and N ISO at the beginning of the year. now sells for between NIBO a nd N250. Currently, Nigeria may be an import-dependent country food wise as a Significant budget is spent on the imJXIrtalion of wheal and rice among oth ers. The Federal Government had, however, indicated its intention to stop the im portation of some ilems such as rice, fertiliser and sugar by 20 15 . But publk opinio n called for a survival strategy 10 foreslall a fami ne . n le president, Nige rian Organic Agriculture Network, Mr. Gideon Adeoye:, told SATURDAY PUNCH that Nigeria may experience food scardty except the government came up wit h a pragmatiC

food producl1on policy. He made ill case for the use of o rganic fertilisers for farming, as agllinst the mineral variant, which is scarce, while calling on the FG to e ncourage the youths to go into farm ing with attracllve Incentives. Adeoye said, "We are in trouble in Nigeria, seeing the prices o f food globally. We o nly have political fal"l"T1eB here. !he National Youth Service Corps members should be encouraged to go into farming before they get exposed to money. If we continue to rely on our farmers o f 5Q..8O years old, we a re not likely 10 see much from farming. "Bring In Ihe you ths, give them hectares to cultivate and provide them a conducive environ ment. This may be Nigeria's biblical 5eVi!n years o f plenty before the years of famine come; we need a Joseph to rise to our rescue, he said. The president of the Cassava Association G rO\UeTS o f Nigeria. Mr. M .S. Ayinmodu, said cassava farmers were harvesting to the consumption demand of Nigerians. But he lamented the lack of good marketing network and processing lines. He called on the government to inv~1 in these areas of challenges so thai they could turn out fin ished products at a ffordable prices. Figures released by the Worid Bank showed that global food prices have risen by 36 per cent in the last one year. At ils spring meeti ng in Washington Ulis April, the bank called o n policymakers to focus o n food security. For many developing countries, experts said that means supporting the inlerests of small farmers. H

Why I can't be Senate president - Goje Adelanl Adepeg ba, Abu).. ---c-------

senator-e,ect and former governor of Gombe Slate, A1haji MuhammedGoje, has ru led himself o ut of the contest lor the Senate presidency. saying his lone. the NorthEast, has been officially excluded from the race by the Peoples Democratic Party leadership. He said tha t he had been

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offidally excluded from the race by the outgoing Senate through the recent a mendment o f the slanding order on the ranking of senators. Goje stated al a news briefing in Abuja on Th ursday tha t he decided agaInst contesting the $enllte presidency on April 6, 2011 . as a party man and a prospective senator, who believed in the rule of

law and teamwork. The senator-elect, who will be representing Gombe Central, explained that though he d id no t officially Of" publicly declare any intention to contest, his name had featured prominently among the leading contestants for several weeks with cans aooss all the sixgeopolitical zo nes for him to come out and conlest.

• L·R: f"orml!r lago$" &ole Commisslonl!r for In/ormal.;on and Strofegv. Mr (}peyemi &midele; fTrmanenl SecretQl"}\ Lagos S tole Ministry of Informwlon ond SrrOlegJ.\ Mrs. O/uront' Odviolo; and Permanent Seae10T]J, Lagos CIuil Service Commission, Mrs. Enio/a Yonwuren. during the send-off in honour o/Opeyemi, in Logos ... recently


THE PUNCH, 04 JUNE, 2011