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Nigerian Senate Propose Temporary Food Stamp Model to Combat Rising Hunger Rate

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The Senate of Nigeria passed a motion on Tuesday recommending that the federal government implement a food stamp programme as the most effective short-term solution to end malnutrition and hunger in the country.

The Senate’s resolution followed a motion sponsored by the Senate Chief Whip, Ali Ndume, and co-sponsored by Senator Saliu Mustapha.

In an effort to mitigate the consequences of food insecurity and shortages in the nation, the Red Chamber encouraged the federal government to implement the food stamp system in Nigeria.

Additionally, the Senate directed the federal Ministry of agriculture to partner with appropriate parties and development partners, particularly the Lagos Food Bank Initiative, which a few years ago launched the Temporary Food Assistance Programme (TEFAP).

“This is with a view to working out practicable templates and implementable modalities for the actualization of the programme,” the Senate explained.

In his motion, Ndume stated that forecasts from the October 2023 Cadre Harmonisé Analysis on food insecurity indicated that over 26.5 million Nigerians will be facing severe food insecurity by 2024.

Food stamps, in his opinion, are an extra nutrition aid programme that will help those with low or no income buy food to ensure their continuous access to a nutritious diet.

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

“Many hungry and angry Nigerians 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.  

“In other countries, like the United States of America, food stamp is a government-issued coupon that is given to low-income and non-income persons.  

“It is redeemable for food and it has been used since 1933 to date as a measure to cushion the resultant hardships and sufferings of the poor and less privileged as well as low-income earners.”

In his motion, Ndume emphasised the need for immediate food assistance across the nation and pointed out that the call for wage increases and work support alone cannot ensure a more effective way to address food insecurity without the introduction of trusted public assistance programmes.

He further stated to reporters following the plenary that he disagreed with the notion that some were promoting, according to him, that the federal government should import food because it would be counterproductive.

Speaking, Senate Minority Leader Abba Moro stated that the motion was well-timed and that there had never been an issue recognising vulnerable individuals in his district, but that the food stamps would be helpful.

Senator Sadiq Umar, for his part, insisted that the scheme must begin immediately and stated that the executive branch should make sure that only those who need the food receive it.

“Structures are grown to help in the distribution of the food stamps,” he said.

While endorsing Ndume’s motion, Senator Solomon Adeola stated that although the money will be shared with the vulnerable, food stamps will be even more crucial. 

Additionally, Senator Sani Musa stated that the motion was significant because it would promote food security.

He mentioned that he was organising a similar project in his district and that having one at the federal level would be beneficial.

Jibrin Barau, the Deputy Senate President who oversaw the session, praised Ndume for the proposal and added that it will lessen Nigeria’s suffering. 

“The Senate is willing to take action on matters that will benefit every Nigerian. Thus, Ndume’s motion is commended by the entire Senate,” Barau said.

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