The implementation of the National Food Summit Dialogues is critical to the achievement of the Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP) and the Nigeria Agenda 2050, according to Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
In her opening remarks at the inception dialogue on the United Nations (UN) food systems summit held recently, she stated that the outputs of the various food summit dialogues would form a critical component for the conclusion of the MTNDP and the Nigeria Agenda 2050, and would, as well, contribute to the achievement of sustainable development goals (SDGs) in Nigeria.
Speaking on the essence of The Nigeria National Food Systems Dialogues (NNFSD), Ahmed said: “The NNFSD is required to improve nutrition security, reduce hunger and prevalence of malnutrition in line with the national food and nutrition policy for Nigeria. It is envisioned to create more inclusive, healthier food systems and encourage a collaborative approach towards building a sustainable food system.”
“In recent years, Nigeria has shown a clear commitment to the eradication of malnutrition. This is happening through the adoption and domestication of policies and costed strategic plans, which emphasise increased reliance on domestic funding; and a well-coordinated multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholders approach (comprising government, CSOs, private sector and donors); backed by sustained high-level political commitment,” she said.
She stated: “These include the national strategic plan of action for nutrition, the national policy on food and nutrition, the innovative national social investment programme (which includes the home-grown school feeding programme), the basic health care provision fund, and the National Council on Nutrition, and the development of various food and nutrition sector plans.”
According to her, “We in Nigeria are at a critical crossroads. While we have seen some improvements in recent years, particularly in the areas of child nutrition and breast feeding, we know that in order for these improvements to yield results, malnutrition (and other public health issues) must be addressed through the implementation of innovative policies and strategies,” she said further.
The implementation of the innovative policies and strategies must ensure that malnutrition is: Appropriately funded, data-driven, sustainable, and that they help to optimise transparency and accountability.
“Further, we must continue to work collaboratively across the federal and state governments, and hand in hand with the private sector, and development partners. This is particularly true given the dual impact of COVID-19 and the drop in crude oil prices.
The Honourable Minister noted that government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has been swift and people-oriented. “It includes a fiscal stimulus package, amendments to the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework (MTFF) and the 2020 Appropriation Act, and the launch of the multi-sector Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP). Our emphasis has 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, she highlighted.
In her words: “This informed the rationale for making food and nutrition one of the key thematic areas in the MTNDP 2021-2025 and the Nigeria Agenda 2050 presently being developed by my Ministry in collaboration with relevant stakeholders.”
Considering the essence of the Inception Dialogue, which is aimed at identifying food systems challenges from multiple perspectives, Mrs. Ahmed said: “The Dialogue is being organised in Nigeria in response to the UN Secretary-General’s call on world leaders to take part in a Summit that will help to establish the future direction for food systems and as well accelerate collective action to that end. This is in line with recognition that transforming food systems is pivotal in efforts to achieving all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.”