The federal government (FG) has called for an integrated, targeted and well-coordinated approach that will guarantee that no one goes to sleep hungry.
At the ongoing virtual World Bank-IMF 2021 Spring Meetings Roundtable On ‘Food Security In Africa: A Resilient Food System Beyond COVID-19’, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, said: “We invite the international community, particularly the multilaterals and the private sector, to key in and to assist Africa to build food resilience and pursue the attainment of the sustainable development goal (SDG) No.2 and the goals of African Union (AU) Agenda 2063.”
In her opening remarks, Mrs. Ahmed noted that a robust and secured food system is central to the health of both humans and the economies of nations. “As the main source of nourishment and jobs for millions of the population, the conversation around the topic is critically well set,” she said.
According to her, the food system is far from achieving its goal of feeding everyone especially with sustainable diet. COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the perennial food shortages in Africa.
On food shortage, she noted that some 230 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are still prone to chronic food insecurity, yet about one-third of food produced globally is regularly wasted. “It is indeed sad that even in the year 2021 we are still having conversations on food wastages and chronic food shortages in some parts of the world.
Making reference to the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for agriculture, she stated: “The vision is to work with key stakeholders to build an agribusiness economy capable of delivering sustained prosperity by meeting domestic food security goals, boosting exports, and supporting sustainable income and job growths.”
Across Nigeria, farmers, traders and transporters are, according to the Hnourable Minister, seeing a shift in their fortunes. The agricultural sector is witnessing a revolution propelled by the President’s vision of a country that should ‘grow what it eats.’ Accordingly, the administration is supporting initiatives.
On agribusiness development initiatives in Nigeria, Mrs. Ahmed also noted: “More initiatives abound. The growing success story on agriculture in Buhari’s administration has prompted more youths to take up full-time agriculture. More than 7 million Nigerians are actively employed in agriculture under the administration’s diversification agenda and the Ministry of Agriculture is working to ensure that the sector offers 20 million jobs in the nearest future.”
Looking at the challenges facing the country, she again noted that Nigeria, like other countries, had faced critical challenges in her drive for food security. These challenges affect both the upstream and downstream agricultural sector.
As a way forward, Mrs. Ahmed said: “We believe that the current food situation is unsustainable. We strongly believe that given the quantum of arable land in Africa, the time to change the global support to commercial agriculture is now. This certainly requires FDI flows into the agriculture value chain. Our governments are prepared and are following up with necessary macroeconomics and fiscal reforms including governance and institutional strengthening; and prioritizing intra-Africa trade as well as structural reforms and public investments.