Senate to introduce food stamp to cushion food insecurity

Sharon EboesomiFebruary 28, 20245 min

This, according to the Senate is intended at working out practicable templates and implementable modalities for the actualisation of the program.

Senate to introduce food stamp to cushion food insecurity

The Senate has urged the Federal Government to introduce the Nigerian version of the Food Stamps program as an interventionist measure to cushion the effects of food insecurity/shortage in the country.

It therefore mandated the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to liaise with development partners and other relevant stakeholders, especially the Lagos Food Bank Initiative, which introduced Temporary Food Assistance Programme (TEFAP), a few years ago.

These resolutions were sequel to the adoption of a motion on the “Introduction of food stamps in Nigeria as an interim measure to address imminent food insecurity in the country,” sponsored by Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South) and co-sponsored by Senator Saliu Mustapha (APC, Kwara Central) during Tuesday’s plenary.

In his lead debate, Sen. Ndume noted that at the unveiling of the October 2023 Cadre Harmonisé Analysis on food insecurity, it was projected that in 2024, Nigeria is expected to see about 26.5 million people, grappling with high levels of food insecurity.

He stressed that the reason for the above projection is not far-fetched, as several indicators, which include but are not limited to the ongoing conflicts across the country, climate change impacts, escalating inflation witnessed in recent times, and rising costs of both food and essential non-food commodities, due to fall in the value of Naira in the exchange market.

Voicing his concern over many hungry and angry Nigerians who have been expressing their frustration and anger over the recent increase in food prices by demonstrating on the streets in several cities across the country, he said, “In other countries, like the United States of America, Food Stamp which is a government-issued coupon that is given to low-income and non-income persons and is redeemable for food have been used since 1933 to date as a measure to cushion the resultant hardships and sufferings on the poor/less privileged as well as low-income earners.

The clamour for wage increase and work support cannot alone guarantee a more effective way of addressing food insecurity without the introduction of time-tested public assistance programme, contemplated by this motion with particular emphasis on the need for immediate food support across the country.”

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Speaking to reporters after the presentation of his motion, he stressed that the reason for the motion was to address the peculiar situation of the country and the inefficiency of the previous measures taken.

According to him, “America which we all know is one of the richest and most developed countries in the world introduced food stamps in 1939 and it is still in existence today.

“Only last two years in think, or during Trump’s administration that they changed it to food SNAP (Supplement Nutrition Assistance Programme).

“This programme is practical and more efficient than disbursing money because we have tested it during the Buhari regime and it was immensed with massive corruption.

“But if it is food stamp, it’s normally given to you to either go and buy garri, rice or go buy semolina or specific foodstuff. You will go to designated points, present your food stamp and in return, you will be given food. That way there’s some type of control and it will ensure that it will get to the needy.”

Contributing to the motion, Senator Sadiq Umar (APC, Kwara North) called for a need to ensure that the objective of the motion is achieved.

He said, “We need to ensure that only those who need it, get it and to do that is simple, through the representative of the people, the Senate, governors, down to councillors and that is the political structure. We also have tested religious structure, and traditional structure but most importantly, using of technology can be helpful, we can find a way of getting people’s NIN, their telephone number, triangulate it and join it together, so that they cannot take advantage of it.”

On his part, Senator Sani Musa (APC, Niger East) said, “The United States of America have used food stamps as one way of reaching out to the downtrodden, i believe with the right mechanism, we can also adopt the same.

“If this system is adopted and I have my stamp which I will present at every strategic location that had been identified for that purpose, I think it will serve the purpose that the government is trying to alleviate.”

Sharon Eboesomi

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