The Nigerian government is complementing existing development plans and sectoral strategies as well as prioritizing investments in innovations and technologies to transform food systems in the country.
Vice president Yemi Osinbajo stated this on Tuesday in his remarks delivered virtually at the preparatory meeting of the United Nations Food Systems Summit 2021.
The pre-summit is a prelude to the culminating global event scheduled for Rome, Italy in September 2021, an event the Vice President described as crucial just as the previous dialogues held in several countries on food systems.
Transforming Africa’s food system
Vice President Osinbajo said that transforming Africa’s food system is an obvious task requiring the active mobilization and prioritization of both public and private investments.
“The Nigerian Government is committed to addressing the drivers of food insecurity such as food inflation, changing consumption patterns and climate change, amongst other things.
“At the same time and as an outcome of 40 different food systems dialogues in which up to 5,000 people participated, Nigeria is prioritizing investments in specific innovations and technologies to scale up and transform food systems.
“These actions complement existing development plans and sectoral strategies such as our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, the National Policy on Food and Nutrition, and the National Policy on Food Safety”, he said.
Economic Sustainability Plan
According to Osinbajo, the specific aim of Nigeria’s recently launched National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy is to address hunger, malnutrition and poverty as part of the country’s target of lifting a hundred million Nigerians out of poverty within a decade.
He explained that at the heart of Nigeria’s post-Covid-19 response is the Economic Sustainability Plan.
Prof. Osinbajo noted that the “plan has a major component, which is the Agriculture for Food and Jobs Programme (AFJP) where we seek to leverage suitable technologies to build a resilient food system for Nigeria.
“Our Nutrition Policy addresses the issues of sustainable and nutrition-sensitive food systems – and the country has prioritized key nutrition actions that are impactful, cost-effective, scalable, and sustainable.
“An integral part of our food systems’ transformation strategy is to create an enabling and supportive environment to implement these policies in a participatory manner involving farmers, investors and State Governments.”
Vice President Osinbajo said that significant improvements have been made in crop yields, affordable and healthy diets, among others.
Food security impediments
Pointing out factors that impede food security in Nigeria and several other countries, Prof. Osinbajo said “in our country and several others, population growth exceeds growth in national income, food supply would not meet the needs of people, especially when distribution systems are inequitable.”
He said the rate of post-harvest losses in Africa, and particularly in Nigeria, was more than 20% of production for several food groups.
“And this is due mainly to poor storage, poor rural infrastructure and non-automation of food processing, amongst other things.
“The situation in many African countries is given increased urgency with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has led to growing levels of acute food insecurity.
“This is of great concern to all of us, especially if we recall that prior to the pandemic, the prevalence of severe food insecurity was as high as 22%”, he added.
Sustainable food systems
In her remarks, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed acknowledged the work done by Nigeria in developing food systems.
“Let me commend the effort of my home country, Nigeria, especially the Vice President, for leading six ministers including the Minister of Finance, in the dialogues and other efforts aimed at building sustainable food systems in the country.
“Food unites us all, as families, as communities, as cultures and as humanity, now let’s use it to unite around the urgency and the actions that are needed to transform our world by 2030”, she said.
Amina Mohammed explained that the summit was designed to guide national governments and other stakeholders to leverage their food systems to support the SDGs, and noted that food systems play a central role in building a fairer, more sustainable world.
Among other participants at the second day of the preparatory meeting were the Prime Minister of Italy, Mr Mario Draghi; Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed; Ministers representing India, Canada, China, Norway and Egypt.