As Nigerians discuss in the media and everywhere else an alleged food shortage or impending famine, and loudly complain about the rising value of food at the point of purchase, the European Union (EU) solves the problem by adding the migratory locust, the type that farmers here call plague, to their food variety.
The European Commission has announced that migratory locusts or grasshoppers as human food “could be marketed as a snack or as a food ingredient in dried or frozen form with the wings and legs removed”. It is also sold without legs and wings in Nigeria, although consumers can opt for the one with legs and wings, which is also available. The authorization to use the locust as food in the EU zone will come into force on December 5, 2021.
Here, the locust has always been a regular food in some parts of the country. It is commonly available in the food departments of the markets of Sokoto, Birnin Kebbi, Katsina, Maiduguri, Potiskum, Kano, for example. Fried and roasted grasshoppers are bought by families and used as ingredients to make delicious, nutritious soups.
A food and drink columnist for “Modern Farmer,” an online publication, said: “Migratory locusts, like many other species of grasshoppers and crickets, are quite widely eaten; this particular species has long been a part of the diets in parts of Zambia, Cameroon, Botswana and several other countries in central and southern Africa, as well as in some Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and the Philippines. They are also quite tasty, described as being similar to other grasshoppers in terms of flavor, a bit of nutty and savory.
As Europeans turn to grasshoppers for food, Nigerians should consider themselves lucky in the wide variety of protein sources available and accessible regardless of the season of the year in the country. The roots and tubers are nutritious, affordable and accessible, are available in all parts of the country, although their prices are gradually increasing.
The main roots and tubers from each of which many dishes are derived include cassava, the king of crops. Its other siblings are taro, sweet potato, Irish potato and yam. These human foods are abundant throughout Nigeria. None of these stable Nigerian food products are imported. And this fact is a plus for our country.
Grains and cereals are also abundant, accessible and affordable. Stable grains and cereals are sorghum, corn, millet, wheat, rice, aca and more. There is no doubt that the prices of assorted grains are rising, almost simultaneously, as if in synchronization, with those of tubers and roots.
Many factors drive up prices: banditry in the country’s grain belt; community conflicts in the main root and tuber production areas, in particular the high-profile but clearly induced antagonism between farmers and nomadic herders, and the ebb of insurgency in parts of the northeast.
Entire towns and farming villages have been destroyed by insurgents and bandits, or deserted as a result of unprofitable community conflicts. With a large swath of farmland left fallow by fleeing owners; or farmers killed in conflict, it is not surprising that a gap has arisen in food production. Fortunately, this is not as wide a gap as it is generally thought. The bottom line is that there will be no famine in Nigeria, although economists say shortages and panicking demand for basic commodities often lead to higher prices for these commodities.
Certainly, the early cessation of rainfall observed in parts of the geopolitical areas of the northeast and northwest caused a slight drought during the 2021 wet season that wilted late beans, sorghum, groundnuts, rice, tomatoes and okra. But that did not threaten to push Nigeria into famine.
Most consumers rarely include soaring costs of transporting food from production areas to consumption centers as a factor pushing food prices north. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported that the cost of transporting food produced from north to south is mainly responsible for the rise in food prices in the south compared to the north of the country.
Many commentators on food and food prices in recent years were unaware of the cost of certified seeds, pesticides, planting material, fertilizers, harvesting, sorting, shelling and shelling. bagging, storage and post-harvest handling in general as some of the things that drive up food prices.
Another driver of food prices in our country is the fact that Nigeria helps feed some of our neighbors: Chad, Cameroon, Sudan, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Republic of Niger and Burkina Faso, to name just the main beneficiaries. . Dozens of trucks leave daily from the country’s several huge food markets loaded with food to these countries. Ironically, the foodstuffs that we say expensive here are seen as cheap and bought in these countries at higher prices.
African countries are not the only beneficiaries of the purchase of food in Nigeria. The country officially exports sesame seeds, soybeans, white beans and cassava chips to China, India and Singapore.
Don’t be surprised that “Nigeria exports agricultural products like cocoa beans, inshell cashews, frozen shrimp, ginger, fish, crustaceans, molluscs, aquatic invertebrates, oil seeds, cereals, seeds and fruits to the Netherlands ”, the agro group which organizes food imports from Nigeria told https://www.agroberichtenbuitenland.nl/.
Nigeria also exports smoked fish, garri, bean flour, melon seeds, ogbono, cassava flour, bitter leaves, dried pumpkin leaves, palm wine, processed coconut, pepper, tomato paste, hibiscus flowers, yogurt, other vegetable leaves and hot pepper to many countries in the world.
Under the circumstances, how can we stem the slow rise in food prices? Simple: As many semi-idlers in cities as possible should embrace farming to produce more food and waste less.
Dambatta writes via [email protected]
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