Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has disclosed that the federal government is well disposed towards tackling current inflation and other challenges of food security in the country.
Osinbajo, who spoke virtually Tuesday at the preparatory meeting of the United Nations Food Systems Summit 2021, stressed the Nigerian Government’s committed towards addressing the drivers of food insecurity such as food inflation, changing consumption patterns and climate change, amongst other things.
According to him, at the same time and as an outcome of 40 different food system dialogues in which up to 5,000 people participated, Nigeria is prioritizing investments in specific innovations and technologies to scale up and transform food systems.
He said: “These actions complement existing development plans and sectoral strategies such as our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, the National Policy on Food and Nutrition, and the National Policy on Food Safety.”
He emphasised that transforming Africa’s food system is an obvious task requiring the active mobilization and prioritization of both public and private investments.
This, the vice-president said, explains the resolve of the federal government in complementing existing development plans, sectoral strategies and prioritizing investments in specific innovations and technologies to transform food systems in the country.
Osinbajo noted that the specific aim of the recently launched National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy is to address hunger, malnutrition and poverty as part of the present administration’s target of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within a decade.
The vice-president explained that at the heart of Nigeria’s post-COVID-19 response is the Economic Sustainability Plan, adding that the plan has a major component, which is the Agriculture for Food and Jobs Programme (AFJP) and seeks to leverage suitable technologies to build a resilient food system for Nigeria.
According to him, “Our Nutrition Policy addresses the issues of sustainable and nutrition-sensitive food systems – and the country has prioritized key nutrition actions that are impactful, cost-effective, scalable and sustainable.
“An integral part of our food systems’ transformation strategy is to create an enabling and supportive environment to implement these policies in a participatory manner involving farmers, investors and state governments.”
He assured his audience of significant improvement in crop yields, affordable and healthy diets, among others.
Making a case for initiatives that support Africa and other developing countries, Osinbajo cited Nigeria and several other African countries as examples of nations whose population growth exceeds growth in national income and food supply which would not meet the needs of people, especially when distribution systems are inequitable.
He said: “Post-harvest losses in Africa, and particularly in Nigeria, are more than 20% of production for several food groups. And this is due mainly to poor storage, poor rural infrastructure and non-automation of food processing, amongst other things.
“The situation in many African countries is given increased urgency with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to growing levels of acute food insecurity. This is of great concern to all of us, especially if we recall that prior to the pandemic, the prevalence of severe food insecurity was as high as 22%.”
The pre-summit is a prelude to the culminating global event scheduled for Rome, Italy in September 2021, an event the vice-president described as crucial just as the previous dialogues held in several countries on food systems.
Earlier in her remarks, the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, while acknowledging the food security efforts of Nigeria said: “Let me commend the effort of my home country, Nigeria, especially the vice-president, for leading six ministers including the Minister of Finance, in the dialogues and other efforts aimed at building sustainable food systems in the country.
“Food unites us all, as families, as communities, as cultures and as humanity. Now let’s use it to unite around the urgency and the actions that are needed to transform our world by 2030.”
She added that the summit is designed to guide national governments and other stakeholders looking to leverage their food systems to support the SDGs, noting that food systems play a central role in building a fairer, more sustainable world.