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FG to address Nigeria’s food deficit

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By Abraham Adekunle

FAO projected 25 million people would face food insecurity during lean season.

The Federal Government has commenced an integrated approach to remedy the challenges of food ecosystems in the country in order to reduce the huge food deficit caused by the neglect of agriculture. Minister of State for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, disclosed this at a meeting of the donors/development partners on April 18, 2023. The minister, who spoke on the implementation of the food systems transformation pathways in Nigeria, said food security is the indispensable prerequisite for the survival of mankind.

He lamented that the incidence of food insecurity has been on a steady increase over the past four decades. He also added that the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has projected that about 25.3 million people in Nigeria would face acute food insecurity during the June to August 2023 season. In a quarterly report released by the global organization, the figure projected is higher than the 19.45 million forecasts in 2022. He said that this higher forecast is attributed to the huge food deficit due to the neglect of agricultural production and other areas of the food ecosystem for many decades.

Task Team works on implementation strategy for transforming food systems.

At the meeting, the minister disclosed that the government had garnered a lot of support from donors and development partners since the initiative on food systems transformation started. While extending his gratitude to them for their generous support to Nigeria in different fields, he recognized their collaboration with the Government of Nigeria (GoN) on a series of exploratory dialogues that took place in the 36 States, the FCT and some communities in 2021 and the consolidation of the reports, collation of the 78 recommended priorities from the dialogues, prioritization of recommendations, and the commencement of implementation in 2022.

Agba also said the 2023 Implementation Task Team, of which they are members, is currently working on the development of a costed implementation strategy for transforming the food systems. The government is aware that donors have specific states and areas of intervention in all the states in the country and the mapping exercise done by the Implementation Task Team has shown this. He said that there is an urgent need for better coordination of our efforts as stakeholders to ensure balance support by all donors and development partners to enable Nigeria to achieve the transformation pathways.

Universal access to sustainable diets critical to addressing malnutrition.

The Minister revealed that the Federal Government understood that achieving universal access to safe, nutritious, affordable and sustainable diets is critical to addressing the complexities of malnutrition and food insecurity in Nigeria. According to him, this is particularly significant to attaining both economic and human capital development. Thus, it requires breaking down silos among different actors in the food and nutrition sphere while adopting a well-coordinated multi-sectoral approach. He noted that both the technical and financial support for the implementation of the food systems pathway has become a great challenge to the government.

He said the needed funds for this will require the pooling of public and private sector resources, including development partners and donors. According to him, the present administration in its determination to ensure improvement in the food and nutrition situation in the country has adopted a strategic approach towards ensuring that successive governments in Nigeria continue to prioritize food and nutrition interventions in the nation’s development agenda. So, the ministry has been championing the implementation of the presidential directive on the establishment of nutrition departments and the creation of budget line for nutrition in all line ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

Agba calls for continuous support of all partners.

Minister Agba stated that the government appreciates the commitment of every organization represented at the meeting to implement the strategy being developed for the implementation of the food systems transformation pathways in the country. He said, “The enormous amount of money needed to assure the food security of Nigerians calls for a fundamental review of past approaches and achievements to see what lessons can be learned to re-strategize and develop an approach that will ensure that better progress is made toward achieving better results.” He called for the continuous support of all partners, especially in funding the implementation of the food systems.

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