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Food Crisis: UN warns that 82 million Nigerians at risk of hunger

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The United Nations has urged the Nigerian government to address climate change, pest infestations, and other risks to agricultural productivity after predicting, once more, that 82 million Nigerians, or around 64% of the nation’s population, may be hungry by 2030.

The forecast follows a sustained increase in the nation’s food costs. Nigeria’s food inflation rate surpassed the 40.53 increase from the previous month to a new high of 40.66% in May 2024, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Since records have been kept in 1996, this spike in food costs constitutes the biggest annual increase. Nigerian food inflation has historically ranged from -17.50% in January 2000 to an average of 13.42%.

The Food and Agriculture Organization estimated in 2023 that between June and August of 2024, at least 2.6 million Nigerians in the states of Borno, Sokoto, and Zamfara, as well as the Federal Capital Territory, may experience a food crisis.

A government-led Cadre Harmonisé research published in March 2024 estimates that the number of people suffering from extreme food insecurity in the states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe is close to 4.8 million, the largest number in seven years. Additionally, organised labour expressed alarm about the nation’s escalating food costs and fuel scarcity as Nigerian workers celebrated May Day in 2024, claiming that the existing state of affairs threatened workers’ survival.

Olisa Agbakoba, a senior advocate for Nigeria, recently issued a warning that the country may soon see a hunger riot and urged the federal government to take immediate action.

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s resident humanitarian coordinator, Taofiq Braimoh, a UN representative, stated recently at the CropWatch Abuja launch: “The government of Nigeria, in collaboration with others, conducts an annual food security survey.” The results this year are concerning: over 80–82 million Nigerians are at risk of severe food crisis by 2030, and about 22 million may experience food insecurity in 2023.

“Nigeria, like many countries, grapples with food insecurity, climate change, unreliable water patterns, pest infestations, and other threats to agricultural productivity. As an agrarian society, our farms’ success directly impacts food availability for our population. Leveraging technology is crucial to strengthening our agriculture sector and ensuring food security.”

The continent has contributed approximately four per cent to greenhouse gas emissions worldwide – significantly less than countries like China and the United States. Yet, African nations rank among the most vulnerable to the repercussions of climate change.

Musings From Abroad

IMF lowers Botswana’s growth projection for 2024

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In a statement, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reduced its earlier April estimate of 3.6% growth for Botswana to 1%, primarily because of decreased diamond production.

In addition, the IMF warned that a decline in mineral income would cause the budget deficit to balloon to 6% from 3.45% and urged the diamond-rich nation in southern Africa to think twice before embarking on new infrastructure projects to support the economy.

“The continued (economic) slowdown is mainly due to a fall in diamond production,” said IMF said in a statement released late on Friday.

“Some fiscal relaxation is warranted this year given the fall in mineral revenues, but the execution of the ambitious capital budget should be slowed down to contain the deterioration of the deficit and prioritize projects with the highest returns,” the IMF said.

 

The demand prognosis for diamonds, which are typically regarded as luxury goods, has decreased due to weaker consumer demand and a weakening in the global economy.

Finance Minister Peggy Serame predicted in February that the economy would expand by 4.2%, but a few months later the central bank issued a warning, stating that the ongoing challenges in the world diamond market made it doubtful that this goal would be met.

Diamond sales account for 30–40% of Botswana’s total revenue and 75% of its foreign exchange profits.

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Musings From Abroad

Russian state company, Malian junta negotiate nuclear deal

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According to Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear business and the ruling military junta in Mali have signed three cooperation agreements and discussed several projects, including the construction of a low-power nuclear power plant with Russian design, on Wednesday.

For years, Rosatom has been pursuing a charm offensive in Africa in an attempt to secure business through the signing of cooperation agreements with nations all over the continent. As part of that effort, closer ties have been made with juntas in the Sahel region of West Africa, who have retreated from conventional Western allies after seizing power in coups before 2020.

Junta-led administrations in the West African states of Burkina Faso, Guinea, Niger Republic, and Mali have all tilted towards Russia for military ties, severing relations with former colony France and its international ally, the United States.

In a statement, Rosatom claimed that it had met with Assimi Goita, the head of Mali’s junta, on July 2 and 3. It has talks with junta authorities in charge of energy, education, and economics.

The statement added that in addition to talking about a “strategic project to build a Russian-designed low-power nuclear power plant in Mali,” junta leaders and Rosatom also discussed geological exploration projects and solar power generating.

Regarding the projected low-power nuclear power station that might be constructed in Mali, Rosatom withheld information.

“The parties agreed to continue maintaining close contacts and periodically coordinate positions as joint work progresses,” it said.

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