The Federal Government on Tuesday in Abuja launched a 10-year Agricultural Sector Food Security and Nutrition Strategy to combat malnutrition and food insecurity in the country.
Launching the document, Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, expressed regret over the alarmingly poor level of food safety in the country.
Ogbeh, represented by Prof. Abubakar Hafiz, the Deputy Gov. of Kano State, said the strategy would serve as a driver toward making food safe from production, preparation and storage.
He said the event co-hosted by the ministry and the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition was apt, adding that it will help tackle malnutrition challenges in country.
“With this strategy, agriculture and food systems in Nigeria are being deliberately harnesses to boost nutrition.
“It is expected that the successful implementation of the strategy will translate to a sustainable reduction of malnutrition thus, unlocking the immense potentials of generations for economic growth,’’ he said.
In his opinion, Hafiz called for the establishment of a National Food and Nutrition Commission to coordinate, collaborate and mobilise resources for the implementation of the document.
He said that the implementation would require collaborations between the federal, states and local governments.
Prof. Sandy Thomas, the Director of the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition, said the strategy would help support policy makers in the country to make informed decisions.
Thomas said that one in three persons in the country were malnourished, noting that the menace would rise if necessary actions were not taken.
She suggested more investments to scale up nutrition programmes in the country.
“Meeting the 2015 World Health Assembly target for stunting will add 29,7 billion to Nigeria’s income,’’ she said.
Dr Philippa Momah, representing a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) known as `Scaling Up Nutrition’, called for collaborations from relevant stakeholders, private and public sectors to implement the strategy.
The Special Adviser to Ogbeh on Food Security and Nutrition, said the strategy had eight priority areas of enhancing food value chains, diversified food production targeting women and nutrition education among others.
Recall that the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition was established in August 2013 at the Nutrition for Growth Summit in London.
It was jointly funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
It is an independent group of experts and leaders who hold or have held high office and are showing strong personal commitment to improving nutrition.
The Panel aims to provide guidance to decision makers, particularly governments, to inform and promote agricultural and food policies and investment for improved nutrition in low and middle income countries.