Domesticating 2022 WFD theme for healthier Nigeria

World Food Day is an international day marked every October 16 to commemorate the founding of Food and Agricultural Organisation. This year’s edition is aimed at promoting global food safety and calling on relevant stakeholders to take action towards food affordability, as increasing food prices has remained a source of concern to many Nigerians.

Theme of the 2022 WFD, ‘Safe Food Today for a Healthy Tomorrow’, stresses that production and consumption of safe food have “immediate and long-term benefits for the people, the planet and the economy.”

Against this backdrop, it is expedient to x-ray how possible it is to witness an era in Nigeria where it can be declared that a market situation that is characterised by safe food items without escalating prices across markets in the country has been achieved. 


Industry perspective of consumers and food safety

According to a commentary entitled ‘Consumers and food safety: A food industry perspective’ by Sherwin Gardner, Senior Vice President, Science and Technology of the Grocery Manufacturing of America, food industry looks at safe food from the perspective of food control, setting and implementing food standards, and industry’s efforts to ensure quality and communication between the industry and consumers.

He said, “Consumers have a right to expect that the foods they purchase and consume are safe and of high quality. They have a right to voice their opinions about the food control, procedures, standards and activities that governments and industry use to ascertain that the food supply has these characteristics.

“While consumers, governments and other stakeholders play an important part in ensuring food safety and quality in free market societies, the ultimate responsibility for investing the physical and managerial resources necessary for implementing appropriate controls lies with the food industry, which oversees the manufacture and processing of foods, from raw materials to finished products.”

While this is true, he asserted, private enterprise recognises that its success, measured in terms of profitability, is dependent on consumer satisfaction.

He added, “A reflection of consumers’ satisfaction is their continuing purchase of the same products. Food manufacturers and marketers, thus, have an investment in their product identities (brand names) that they naturally wish to protect.

“It is in their interest, therefore, to establish and administer the controls that ensure that their products meet consumer expectations of safety and quality.”


Making safe food affordable

While the world discusses safe food on October 16; be it physical, online or hybrid, it is not out of place to suggest that concerned countries, particularly Nigeria in this context, that would be meeting for the event must be bothered about how safe food can be made affordable, as high food  prices in the recent months across global markets is unspeakable.    

Every visit to the market brings new price shocks, as Nigerian consumers battle to make ends meet. The grim news is that not a few essential household items and food prices are expected to continue to rise, as this year’s curtain falls in less than three months. 


Family food budget

According to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, food inflation in Nigeria hastened to 23.12 per cent in August 2022 from 22.02 per cent in July, the highest since October 2005. Staples, including rice and bread, were the worst hit.

Given the level of hardship experienced by virtually every household due to inflation, Mrs Edith Nkeonyeasua, a civil servant, suggested, “If you haven’t yet taken a good look at your household food budget to find ways to cut costs, this may be a good time to get this done.

“The key, when it comes to your family food budget, is to reduce and contain costs without giving in on quality. Not only that, the opportunity that will be offered by leaders on the WFD on October 16 should be seized, particularly in Nigeria, to discuss how government can intervene to bring down the rising prices of foodstuff.”

According to Nkeonyeasua, simply changing some shopping habits can help one get additional value.

“Planning ahead for your meals enables you to be specific about what to buy, reduces impulse spending and food waste, as well as allows you to take advantage of special offers. Changing to less expensive brands and buying in bulk where possible can result in many small savings that add up to a lot by the end of the month.  Cooking from scratch and preparing more meals at home is not just more affordable, but also fosters healthier eating,” she added. 

In a similar vein, Tomi Ajidagba advised, “There are many ways we can stretch the food budget without compromising on nutritional quality. This is the time for people to take steps to reduce food waste and encourage proper storage. An example is storing yams in sacks and cupboards. They can last for up to a month without turning green, deteriorating or developing buds. Organised spaces in the refrigerator enables you to shop and cook in bulk, saving you time and fuel, while avoiding food waste.”


FG can make safe food affordable

Beyond the outcome of deliberations expected from the 2022 WFD, let us look at ways the Federal Government can make safe food affordable.

Director, Centre for Economic Policy Analysis and Research, Prof Ndubisi Nwokoma, and other eggheads had suggested diverse ways the Federal Government could curb rising food prices in Nigeria.

Nwokoma urged the government to put a squeeze on credit to the economy by raising rates.

He said, “One of the factors driving inflation is the depreciating value of the naira against other foreign currencies; that is the exchange rate. This can be curtailed by putting a squeeze on credit to the economy by raising rates. The high cost of foreign exchange enhances cost-push inflation. 

“Second, the level of uncertainty in the economy hampers the production of goods and services. This is fuelled by insecurity and election year effects.”

Similarly, Professor of Economics at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, Sheriffdeen Tella, advised the government to review the macroeconomic policies to promote economic growth through domestic production.

According to him, the current inflation is bad policies-induced.

He explained, “From the monetary policy side is the financing of budget deficits, particularly financing subsidies by the Central Bank of Nigeria, through the printing of money, while from the fiscal side is rising cost of diesel, electricity and rising consumption taxes. These affect the cost of production, and reduce demand and output. Reduced output means high unit cost, which is passed on to the consumer.

“Government has to review the macroeconomic policies to promote economic growth through domestic production.*

Data from NBS shows that food inflation rose to 19.50 per cent in May 2022, the highest in eight months when compared to 18.37 per cent in the previous month, probably due to the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

On his part, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Akpan Ekpo, said there’s need to take advantage of the war between Russia and Ukraine and encourage farmers to produce more grains.

“Inflation adversely affects the poor and pensioners, since they cannot draw on savings to survive.

“Government should do its best to solve the security problem, so that farmers can produce optimally; palliatives should be given to the poor, including vulnerable retirees,” he added.

While supporting a managed exchange rate regime, he added that the gap between the official and parallel market exchange rates should be marginal “to curtail inflationary pass-through.”

Given the foregoing, the theme of this year’s WFD, as would be discussed across the world on October 16, should be domesticated in Nigeria.

Get in Touch


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles