Towards food sufficiency: Stakeholders brainstorm on solution to food crisis in Nigeria

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Lawrence Nwimo, Awka

The need to strengthen food production systems across the Southern region of Nigeria was what informed a consultation workshop that held in Awka, the Anambra State capital on Thursday. 

The one-day workshop was on the implementation strategy of the food system transformation pathways in Nigeria. It drew major stakeholders and participants from the economic and agricultural sectors across 17 states of the Southern Nigeria. 

The participants which comprised experts and stakeholders brainstormed on charting a new direction in the agricultural sector of the country, at the end of which they proffered scientifically proven solutions.

Unveiling this at the workshop, the professionals from diverse fields said the food transformation agenda would help the government at  all levels to ensure self-sufficiency in food production, create employment opportunities, make raw materials available for agro-industries, and increase GDP and foreign exchange.

Delivering his keynote, the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Nebeolisa Anako, represented by Engr Okechukwu Ezekwesili, said the food system pathway represents a comprehensive approach to improving the productivity and sustainability of food while promoting good health and nutrition. 

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He said it also helps to reduce greenhouse gases and enhances the socioeconomic development of the country. 

He also said that the agenda is not a federal government program, but one that calls for concerted efforts from the subnational, the private sector, and citizens. 

Also speaking, the commissioner for Agriculture, Anambra State, Dr. Forster Ihejiofor, said the summit is timely and essential in the drive to domesticate the agenda in the 17 states of the federation, stressing that time has come for the states in the country to develop a comprehensive and tailored approach that reflects the unique needs, challenges, and opportunities.

He called for the prioritization of sustainable agricultural practices that improve productivity, reduce waste, and protect the environment while also enhancing good security and nutrition.

He also called for the promotion of policies and regulations, including consumer education that reflects the importance of healthy and sustainable food choices in the land.

Anambra State Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Ms. Chiamaka Nnake, disclosed that Anambra State under Prof. Chukwuma Soludo is leveraging on the strengths and opportunities that exist within the agriculture and agro-processing sectors, having been informed of the critical role that food systems play in supporting the growth of the economy. 

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She informed that the implementation of a few food systems-related initiatives such as the regenerative agricultural policy, distribution of coconut and oil palm seedlings, and distribution of farm inputs, amongst others reduce the number of people without access to food, decline in food-related disease, and improve the livelihoods of people in the state.

Earlier, the Chief of Staff to Governor Soludo, Mr. Ernest Ezeajuyi,  encouraged all 17 states to ensure that the lessons of the deliberations are put to good use in their respective states.

Ezeajuyi emphasized that Anambra state, under Professor Chukwuma Soludo, has become one of the food baskets of the nation, through its regenerative agriculture approach.

Meanwhile, the National Convener for the Implementation of the United Nations Initiated Food System (UNFST) in Nigeria, Dr. S. O. Faniran, said the essence of the consultation was to harvest the inputs of all the states in the southern region towards the development of a robust and inclusive implementation strategy for the food system transformation in Nigeria. 

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He said: “The essence of this consultation is to harvest the inputs of all the states in the southern region. The three zones in the South: Southeast, Southwest, and South-South, gathered to harvest input into the implementation plan for the 17 recommendations that were presented by President Mohammadu Buhari in Food System Summit. 

“The outcome of this summit will mean that we have harvested inputs into the implementation strategy so that it will now become a national document and not a Federal government document.”

In their separate remarks, representatives of the United Nations, Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) said the zonal consultation organized is instrumental in enriching the implementation strategy and ensuring its ownership by stakeholders at all levels.

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