The federal government has resolved that only dialogue is required to find lasting solutions to the lingering challenges of the food systems and associated forms of malnutrition in Nigeria.
In her opening remarks at the Consolidatory Dialogue For The Nigeria Food Systems held recently in Abuja, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, said: “Indeed, through these engagements, we have not only been able to identify some challenges intrinsic to our food systems from multiple perspective, but we have equally been able to harvest some promising ideas, innovative solutions and approaches from diverse stakeholders.”
According to her, the food systems encompass the entire food production, processing, supply chain, food environment as well as consumer behaviour.
“We have also recognised the need to make our food systems attractive to our teeming population especially to the youth of this country. For this reason, government is deploying up to date technology in agricultural production and the entire food value chain,” she said.
In her words: “There is no gainsaying that the Nigeria food systems is currently being threatened by increasing cases of insurgency, kidnapping, armed banditry and other vices currently plaguing our country.
These challenges notwithstanding, the emphasis, according to her, has always been on protecting the economy and funding the country’s healthcare needs, with the COVID-19 response spurring necessary transformation and innovation in the fiscal space and beyond. This informed the rationale for making food and nutrition key thematic areas in the medium-term national development plan (MTNDP 2021-2025) presently being developed by my Ministry in collaboration with relevant stakeholders.
“It is, therefore, my belief that the opportunity provided by these dialogues have created more awareness, better understanding of the challenges of our food systems and actions needed to making our food systems more sustainable and more resilient. Solutions we shall be coming out with will be those that will further propel us to achieving Nigeria of our dream particularly in the quest to improving nutrition security, reducing hunger and prevalence of malnutrition as it was envisioned in the national food and nutrition policy for Nigeria.
The Honourable Minister sees dialogue as a platform to consolidate all conservations that have been made in Nigeria around the food systems since the inception dialogue in February, 2021.
She noted that the event was to enable Nigerians harmonise the major highlights that emanated from the series of government and independent-led dialogues that have taken place so far in the country and making some commitments on ways of making the food systems better, more inclusive and more sustainable.
“During this period that the dialogues lasted, participants from diverse sectors shaded lights on the synergies and trade-offs between the five actions trackers of the United Nations (UN) food systems. Thorough analysis was made of existing policies, plans and guidelines, in-country studies and on the field experiences leading to better understanding of how our food systems is affected and pathways to a more drastic transformation of our food system.
Mrs. Ahmed stated: “In line with the UN’s leadership directive, Nigeria under the leadership of the Permanent Secretary as the National Convenor has successfully organised an inception dialogue at national level, exploratory dialogues in 12 States across the six geo-political zones and local government and community level dialogues in eight communities selected from eight states.
“We have also had over 30 independent dialogues organised by group of individuals as well as private organisations. With this you will agree with one that the journey has been so tedious but with our collective resolve to succeed we were able to come this far.