…As bill to address food security problems in Nigeria Scales Second Reading in Senate
By Henry Umoru
THE Senate Tuesday began moves to address the country’s food security problems as a Bill to make provisions for freedom from hunger and the right to adequate Food of acceptable quality, the right of every Child to Basic Nutrition yesterday scaled second reading during plenary.
The consideration of the Bill titled, “A Bill for an to make provisions for freedom from hunger and the right to adequate Food of acceptable quality, the right of every Child to Basic Nutrition
and for connected purposes, 2019(SB.11) was after the presentation of the lead Debate by the sponsor, Senator Theodore Orji, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Abia Central.
President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan then referred the bill to the Senator Adamu Abdullahi, APC, Nasarawa West led Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development to report back in four weeks.
In his lead debate on the bill, Senator Orji said that the piece of legislation before the National Assembly seeks to create basic right to food of acceptable quality and the right of every child to basic nutrition.
According to him, the passage of the Bill by the legislature and its eventual assent by the President would address issues of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.
Senator Orji said, “It is important to point out that Food Security means far more than having sufficient food to meet human needs on a national basis. Other very important factors include access to safe drinking water, primary health care and environmental hygiene ”
According to the lawmaker, developing countries have been enacting laws aimed at food security after the World Food Crisis in 2008.
Citing Mauritius as an example, Senator Orji said that the country enacted a Food Security Fund to enhance local production of food by tackling all the problems militating against it, adding that the bill, among other things, seeks “to provide a framework that promotes the elimination and prevention of discrimination of marginalized groups in the access and distribution of food.”
The bill also seeks to establish an Agency as well as stipulates provisions for Chairmanship, membership of the board, tenure of office, amongst others.
It also proposes the establishment of a Food Security Committee in each State of the Federation, whose functions shall include: implementing food security policy and programmes, participating in collection, preparation and dissemination of data on food security and nutrition in the State.
According to him, the Committee shall also be charged with identifying food insecure areas, appropriating programmes and eligible beneficiaries in relation to food security.
Clause 35, Part VII of the Bill establishes a “Food Insecurity and Information Mapping System”, making it mandatory for the Agency to work in collaboration with Ministries of Finance, Disaster Management, Planning and National Security to provide the information needed to develop and strengthen the capacity to respond to food emergencies.
The bill also gives the President the power to declare a food emergency if in his opinion there is a major shortfall in the domestic production or availability of a designated Agricultural commodity.
Also yesterday, the Senate yesterday considered the Rice Development Council Bill, 2019.
Sponsor of the bill, Senator Enagi Bima, in his lead debate, said the proposed legislation seeks to establish a Council that will revolutionize the entire value chain on rice.
According to him, the establishment of a National Rice Development Council will transform the activities of rice farmers, rice processors, millers, researchers, marketers and other important stakeholders across the entire rice value chain in the country.
The bill after consideration was referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development for further legislative work.
Also yesterday, a Bill for an Act to Amend the Federal Polytechnic, Daura, Katsina State to make Provision for a change of name of the Federal Polytechnic, Daura, Katsina State to Mustapha Bukar Polytechnic, Daura, Katsina State and sponsored by Senator Babba Kaita Ahmad, APC, Katsina North scaled second reading and was referred to Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND to report back in four weeks.