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The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) on Monday says Nigeria has expressed its interest to join the Hand- in-Hand initiative to accelerate agricultural transformation and sustainable rural development. Mr David Tsokar, FAO National Communication Officer, made this known in a statement in Abuja. The statement said that the country was ready to join the other 20 countries currently involved in this new initiative. “There are incidents of floods in most parts of the country, where much of the food is produced, like we have in Kebbi state; we have also seen growing conflicts over land resources; “ Yet many farmers still face challenges related to market access and these affect farming and food production. According to the statement, the Hand-in-Hand initiative was launched in 2019 by FAO’s Director General, Qu Dongyu, to support evidence-based, country-led and country-owned investments for eradicating poverty and ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition. “The initiative will help countries to develop independent investment plans to close food gaps, end malnutrition, support economic development and reduce environmental impacts with concrete evidence. All of which will lead to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals particularly goals number one and two on poverty eradication and ending hunger,” The statement said that through the initiative, FAO would bring its technical expertise in all ares of its mandate, with emphasis on innovation and digital technologies. FAO, however, assured commitment to support the country’s development through the initiative, innovation digitalisation of agriculture and called for a quick ratification and domestication of pending international legal instruments. According to the statement, the minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Sabo Nanono said the initiative was a good one and timely for the country to ensure food security and nutrition to all Nigerians. “ Despite the plethora of challenges that have threatened food security in the country, the current administration is focused on empowering the rural people through modern food and agricultural systems that emphasize a value chain approach to feed its people and create jobs,” he pointed out. The statement said that the minister directed that a letter expressing Nigeria’s interest to participate in the initiative be drafted immediately. He also nominated a focal point from the Ministry, to liaise with the FAO team and other Government experts from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in assembling required data for analysis.

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