The United States Government through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced that it is investing $29 million to support aquatic and fish farmers in Nigeria, Bangladesh, Kenya and Zambia. The agency has also revealed a five-year extension for two research partnerships under Feed the Future, the US government’s global hunger and food security initiative. According to the agency, $15 million is led by Mississippi State University while $14 million is led by Michigan State University for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish and Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Legume Systems Research programs respectively.
This was in a statement on October 6, 2023. Part of the statement reads, “The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish works to strengthen the climate resilience of fisheries and other aquatic food systems – such as the harvesting of shellfish and seaweed – in Bangladesh, Nigeria, Kenya, and Zambia.” It further said that aquatic foods are nutritious sources of animal protein and, as one of the world’s most traded agricultural products, are also important sources of income for aquatic farmers and fishers.
Innovative research can scale up varieties of crops.
Further, building on years of research, the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish develops and scales innovations that sustainably increase fish production while also prioritizing natural resource conservation and the needs of producers and fishers. According to the statement, this new phase of the Feed the Future innovation will prioritize increasing sustainable and climate-smart practices, such as enhancing the ability of coastal wetlands and other aquatic ecosystems to store carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. More so, the US government has said that the extension would also focus on increasing food safety and inclusivity along aquatic food value chains, so more people could benefit from nutritious diets and decent livelihoods.
It added that through this innovative research, production of these new legume varieties will be scaled up and brought to market, increasing both the resilience of legume farmers’ livelihoods and the availability of nutritious food. The program will also expand to reach more communities in new regions of Africa and, for the first time, into Latin America and the Caribbean. The extension will also enable the lab to continue their important research on empowering women and young people within the legume production systems, which has already shown strong results in providing economic opportunities to rural women’s groups and has supported more than 60 students to achieve higher education degrees.
Key drivers of food insecurity in Nigeria especially in Northern Nigeria.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), food security is attained when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. However, Nigeria still suffers from its opposite. As of January 2023, UNICEF revealed that nearly 25 million Nigerians are at risk of facing hunger between June and August 2023 (lean season) if urgent action is not taken, according to the October 2022 Cadre Harmonisé, a Government led and UN-supported food and nutrition analysis carried out twice a year.
Continued conflict, climate change, inflation and rising food prices are key causes of this alarming trend. Food access has been affected by persistent violence in the North Eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY), and armed banditry and kidnapping in states such as Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna, Benue and Niger. According to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), widespread flooding in the 2022 rainy season also damaged more than 676,000 hectares of farmlands, which diminished harvests and increased the risk of food insecurity for families across the country.
Roles of farmers and other stakeholders in achieving food security.
At the second edition of the National Animal Feed Summit organized by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and other relevant partners including the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), its sister organization, and Sahel Consulting Agriculture and Nutrition Limited in Abuja, experts discussed the roles of farmers and the media in achieving food security. The year’s summit, themed “Harnessing Alternative Feed Resources for Sustainable Animal Feed,” brought together several relevant agriculture experts from the private and public sectors, feed millers (toll, commercial and on-farm), media experts and the academia in an effort to chart the way forward for the development of Nigeria feed sector and agricultural value chains at large.