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Ex-senator calls for establishment of food intelligence agency

20th May 2024

A former Senator, who represented Ebonyi Central Senatorial Zone, Emmanuel Onwe has called for the establishment of the proposed Food Intelligence Agency to support the recent Federal Government declaration of emergency in food production and security.

Onwe made the call on Sunday in Enugu while briefing journalists on his Open Letter to President Bola Tinubu, titled, “Declaration of a State of Emergency on Food Security and ‘Commodification of the Naira Using Cassava’: What Can I Do for my Country”.

He noted that the declaration of a state of emergency on food security should have galvanised mass action in agricultural practices that would have pushed the FIA agency into action to rescue the nation from food inflation, hunger and outright population starvation.

According to him, this is where the role of the proposed Food Intelligence Agency rises to the top.

“A Food Intelligence Agency – the strike squad of food security and food sovereignty – would have played a significant and defining role in investigating, assessing and recording the state of food production, consumption and preservation across Nigeria.

“Such a body would have the capacity to provide actionable intelligence on the threats and prospects of food production so that these recurring and embarrassing emergencies in food availability could be proactively averted.

“The intermittent emergency reaction to food shortages in this country is absolutely embarrassing not just at national but international level,” he said.

Onwe, who described himself as a big farmer with over 300 hectares of cassava farm, noted that if attention and resources given to politics are made available to food production for consumption and export, “by now crude oil will not be our major foreign exchange earner as a nation”.

“Nigeria is now steeped in a culture where politics and politicking suck in every ounce of the national energy. Politics grabs the nation by the jugular and freezes the very lifeblood cursing through the national veins,” he said.

The senator argued that the growing trend of using “insecurity everywhere” as an excuse for farmers not going to farms was deceptive, adding that insecurity or hoodlum activities had not outnumbered all sections or zones of the country.

According to him, it is true that terrorism and banditry have played a consequential role in the particular fate of farmers in some regions and the general outcome of food availability in this country.

“However, that impediment can easily be overcome through radical measures in terms of opening up alternative areas for the production of the essential agricultural produce that would result in immediate alleviation of not just the potential but immediate threat of starvation among our citizens.”

In July 2023, President Bola Tinubu declared a state of emergency on food security.⁣

Tinubu also approved that all matters of food and water availability and affordability, as essential livelihood items, be included within the purview of the National Security Council.⁣


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