…all hands must be on deck- Gov Sule
…research institutes need urgent revival-Sen Adamu
…7.8% Nigerians overweight, 19.9% underweight-FAO
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari, Thursday, promised to sustain agricultural interventions to achieve food security and safety following positive results in the sector.
Buhari stated this at the 2019 World Food Day celebration at Km 28, Tudun Wada, Nasarawa State, where he said his administration is bent to sustain the various interventions it has made towards job creation, food self-sufficiency, and good nutrition for Nigerians.
The President who was represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Muhammed Nanono, maintained that current policies of the administration under the crop initiative and Anchor Borrower’s Programme on rice will not relent to put food on the tables of Nigerians.
According to him most of the agricultural programmes have created jobs for millions of youth and women, hence poverty has been reduced, huge food import bills drastically cut down, therefore saving foreign exchange.
He said: “The theme for this year’s World Food Day Celebration, ‘Our actions are our future: Healthy Diets for #ZeroHunger World’ is apt now that our diets and eating habits are drastically changing as a result of globalization, urbanization, and income growth, as such, concerted efforts are required by all stakeholders to ensure healthy food systems for food security and nutrition.
“It is also a wakeup call for policymakers across every sector of the economy to ensure food security, accessibility through healthy and sustainable diets provision.
He also disclosed that efforts were also being made to increase the supply of more farm inputs to farmers that would further boost their productivity.
He added that his administration will continue to “address the challenges of our growing population and declining revenue by promoting agribusiness, aiding economic livelihood and attaining food security in the country.
“The matching of agro-processing companies with farmers out-growers cooperative to ensure off-take value addition and grant income for chain Actors placed under the CBN Anchor borrowers scheme had commenced.”
He also explained that “Mechanized Agricultural Programme is being promoted to operate machinery hiring enterprise scheme under private operators to facilitate the manufacturing of durable farm equipment that can withstand the varying geographical terrain and climate of the country.”
The President called on relevant stakeholders to own the concept, scheme, and strategies of deploying the commodity value chain towards promoting agribusiness in the country through the instrument of inclusiveness, transparency, prioritization, partnership and accountability.
He also appreciated the commitment of major stakeholders in the sector including the Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, National Agricultural Foundation of Nigeria, NAFN, OXFAM, Action Aid, and other development partners for their collaboration in organizing the World Food Day Exhibition.
Meanwhile, the Governor of Nasarawa State, Engr. Abdullahi Sule emphasized that all hands must be on deck to promote food self-sufficiency with the huge population and potential the country has.
“The importance of the National Agricultural Show cannot be overemphasized not only due to its contribution in promoting self-sufficiency in food production but also in promoting the cardinal principles of President Buhari’s next level agenda particularly in the agricultural sector”, Sule stated.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture and also Chairman, Board of Trustees of NAFN, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, called for an urgent revival of the nation’s research institutes for positive impact and growth of the sector.
“Our Agricultural research institutes need to be urgently revived now more than ever before, agriculture relied on and benefits from modern research into crop production in the past and played a vital role in applied research, they can still do so if they are revived and empowered to play that statutory role again”, Adamu said.
The Director-General, FAO, Qu Dong Yu, in his address delivered by the Country Representative in Nigeria, Suffyan Koroma, called on the government to adopt policy, food standards and regulations that would prioritize the availability and affordability of safe and nutritious foods.
“The latest data shows that malnutrition is increasing across all regions and income groups in Nigeria, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in adults keeps increasing and is currently at 7.8 per cent in Nigeria.
“One in three children is stunted and underweight also currently at 19.9 per cent, which is higher than the globally accepted numbers. Overweight and obesity in adults are on the rise and 48.5 per cent of women of reproductive age are anemic”, Dong Yu stated.
He added that “It calls for action to make healthy and sustainable diets accessible and affordable to everyone and the need for Nigerians to focus on promoting healthy lifestyles.”