Today, 16th October 2017 is World Food Day. Food cannot be ignored, it is literally the fuel that drives every human being. Food is one of the most important requirements for the sustenance of life, second only to breathable air. This makes this a day for us to not only celebrate the wide variety of food we are blessed with but also talk about the large percentage who don’t have enough to eat.
There is an increased rate of migration in recent times due to war, natural disasters and the changing climate in parts of the world. Like the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations said, “the world is on the move”. Migration has transcended the rural to urban migration patterns of the last century and has become more international, raising so many economic, social and political questions as well as problems. In Nigeria, the rural to urban migration pattern of youths is largely due to a quest for better resources and living conditions.
These migrants are not just numbers on a page, they are people. As they move, their population increases the burden of providing food for them on their host regions, creating a deficit which has to be filled to prevent increasing the population of hungry people. Given that most of these areas of migration are urban settlements occupied by people, it raises a problem.
More food has to be grown not just to accommodate the expanding Nigerian population but to accommodate migrants too. Ironically, this is a deficit that can be filled by rural areas, which have more expanses of arable land. Unfortunately most of these lie fallow due to lack of hands to work on them.
This might seem like the broken record talking about rural development again, but it is really the only way to save our nation from starvation and reduce the hunger margin in Nigeria. If more land is farmed, food would be cheaper and available to the poorer citizens of our country. What other way would these farms produce if not by making returning to the rural areas attractive to the youth?
It is time Nigeria looked more seriously at investing in and reviving Agriculture, and not just as an election ploy. It is one of our strongest and yet most wasted potentials for economic growth.
Enjoy a nutritious meal this #WorldFoodDay.