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  • Writer's pictureChinenye Nnamani

Insecurity and Food Crisis in Nigeria.

The food crisis in Nigeria needs to be tackled to avert looming hunger and starvation in the country. According to the October 2022 Cadre Harmonisè, a government-led and UN-supported food and nutrition analysis carried out twice a year, nearly 25 million Nigerians are at risk of hunger between June and August 2023. The reason has been that food production insufficiency is on the rise, mainly as a result of worsening insecurity in virtually all the states of the federation. The combined effects of armed conflicts, Fulani herdsmen menace, the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, etc. have been ascertained as factors that would inevitably drag down agricultural output (UNICEF,2023; The Guardian, 2021; Disrisu 2021, Nwozor et al 2019). The persistent violence in the Northeast states, armed banditry and kidnapping in the Northwest, and the farmer-herder clash in the country has greatly affected food production (UNICEF, 2023; FEWS. NET).

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The 2020 Global Report on Food Crises (GNAFC) and Food Security Information Network (FSIN) stated that Nigeria is set to experience a lean food supply crisis as more than 7,000,000 people would suffer acute hunger. The very high cost of food items currently is already an indicator. According to the Guardian (2021), 78,000 farmers in Borno, Katsina, Taraba, Plateau, and other states in the north have abandoned their farmland as a result of attacks by Boko Haram terrorists, bandits, and herdsmen; about 56,000 Internally Displaced Household (IDH) farmers from 28 communities in Borno State, who reportedly cultivated about 95,000 metric tonnes of crops yearly, have lost no less than 504,000 metric tonnes of food since 2015 while no fewer than 56,000 farmers in Borno State alone had been displaced. The aforementioned shows the massive reduction of farmers in the country and how it has invariably led to a reduction in food production and an increase in food prices. Displacement and significant disruption to livelihood and market activities; farming households and pastoralists being charged exorbitant fees by armed actors plus limited access to their farms and land are contributing factors to the current food crisis in the country.

UNICEF holds that 17,000,000 people are currently food insecure. Conflict in the northeast region has displaced over 3 million people and left another 4.1 million food-insecure in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states and if the situation is not remedied, the figure may increase in the lean season (UNICEF,2023; WFP,2022). UNICEF further stated that nearly 6 of the 17 million food-insecure Nigerians today are children under 5 living in Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Sokoto, Katsina, and Zamfara states. Three million of them are in Borno State, the epicenter of insurgency. Insurgent activities have disrupted the lives of people, deepened insecurity, hampered development, and heightened the food and nutrition insecurity of vulnerable women and children. Insurgency, social disruption, and economic hardship have made thousands of northeastern Nigerian families to be in desperate need of food assistance. This is a grave situation because the entire north was a food-producing region and also a passing point for livestock moving to different places (Kah, 2017) but has been reduced to beggar states by insecurity.

In the southeast, the violence perpetrated by indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) members has created significant insecurity in the region and has put agricultural activities and investments in jeopardy across the southeast geopolitical zone. They (IPOB members) target vehicles and traders delivering agricultural products to the region from the north to the region for destruction. Imo, Abia, Anambra, Enugu, and Ebonyi are the states affected by the IPOB violent agitations (Abdulaziz, 2021 cited in Ladan and Badaru, 2021). IPOB imposed sit-at-home orders, depriving daily wage earners of the opportunity to earn an income to buy food, and as a result, many of these people go hungry on such days, making them food insecure (Ladan and Badaru, 2021) and this imposition can go on for days disrupting all the activities in the region even farming in the rural communities.

Furthermore, the farmer-herder crisis has adverse economic effects on farming communities and pastoralists, which has enormous financial consequences for all involved (Sulaiman and Ja’afar-Furo 2010 cited in Nnaji et al 2022, FEWS. NET). It limits the activities of herders and farmers, and this constitutes a threat to their livelihoods and reduces agricultural productivity and output, farmers’ cattle holdings, and the harvested land area (Nnaji et al 2022). The menace of Fulani herdsmen has become a major threat to food and national security. The Fulani herders are responsible for various forms of attacks, especially ransom kidnappings and militia expeditions against farming communities considered antagonistic to their herding and pasturing activities (Nwozor et al,2019).

It is pertinent to note that Nigeria is also subject to periodic droughts and floods. This has harmed agricultural output and increased the vulnerability of populations, especially in rural areas and it is one of the reasons why herdsmen move around the country in search of a conducive environment for their livestock. The October 2022 Automated Disaster Analysis and Mapping Rapid Flood Impact Analysis pointed out that over 2.6 million vulnerable people live in the flooded areas, where nearly 3.7 million hectares have been flooded, including 743,000 hectares of crops destroyed ahead of the harvest. Nigeria’s northeast, already burdened with conflict, displacement, and insecurity, now has increased food insecurity due to the floods (WFP, 2022).

Insecurity has played a huge role in the present food crisis in the country. It caused farmers to shy away from their farming activities, displaced a lot of farmers, disrupted the transportation of food crops from the northern to the southern of the country, etc. It affected the socio-economic conditions of thousands of people who now depend on humanitarian to survive.


Food is a basic need for man to survive, hence the government needs to deal decisively with the root cause of insecurity. Government should make more sustainable herding and farming policies. The Nigerian government invents money and other resources in the agricultural sector of the southern part of the country to offset the food shortages due to conflict in the northeastern region of Nigeria.


25 million Nigerians at high risk of food insecurity in 2023. 25 million Nigerians at high risk of food insecurity in 2023 (unicef. o rg)

Dirisu Yakubu (30 April 2021) Insecurity: food crisis looms in Nigeria, farmer warns FG.

Food Security Outlook: Despite the harvest, (IPC Phase 3) will likely persist in the North into 2023 due to conflict. June 2022-January 2023. Nigeria - Food Security Outlook: Wed, 2022-06-08 to Sun, 2023-01-08 | Famine Early Warning Systems Network (

Henry Kam Kah ‘Boko Haram is Losing, But so is Food Production’: Conflict and Food Insecurity in Nigeria and Cameroon. Africa Development, Volume XLII, No. 3, 2017, pp. 177-196. Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, 2017 (ISSN: 0850 3907)

Nnaji, A., W. Ma, N. Ratna, and A. Renwick (2022). “Farmer-herder conflicts and food insecurity: Evidence from rural Nigeria.” Agricultural and Resource Economics Review 51, 391–421.

Nwozor, A., Olanrewaju, J. S., & Ake, M. B. (2019). National Insecurity and the Challenges of Food Security in Nigeria. Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, 8(4), 9. https://www.doi:10.36941/ajis-2019-0032

Peter A. Kwaghtser; Impact of the conflict between farmers and herdsmen on food production in the agroecological Zone-B of Benue State, Nigeria. Ianna Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, Volume 1, Issue 1, October 2019 EISSN: 2735-9891

The Guardian: Insecurity and looming food crisis (14 March 2021)

World Food Programme. Nigeria country Brief October-November. 2022.

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