The Federal Government is complementing existing development plans, sectoral strategies, and prioritizing investments in specific innovations and technologies to transform food systems in the country, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has said.
Osinbajo who spoke at the preparatory meeting of the United Nations Food Systems Summit 2021, said transforming Africa’s food system is a task that required the active mobilization and prioritization of both public and private investments.
The Pre-Summit is a prelude to the culminating global event scheduled for Rome, Italy in September, 2021.
The VP described the event as crucial just as the previous dialogues held in several countries on food systems.
The Vice President restated the commitment of the Nigerian Government to address the drivers of food insecurity in the country, such as food inflation, changing consumption patterns and climate change, amongst other things.
“At the same time and as an outcome of 40 different food systems 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.
“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 said.
The specific aim of the government’s National Poverty Reduction programme launched recently, the VP said the strategy is to address hunger, malnutrition and poverty as part of the country’s target of lifting a 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within a decade.
He explained that at the heart of Nigeria’s post-COVID-19 response was the Economic Sustainability Plan, whose major component is the Agriculture for Food and Jobs Programme (AFJP) where government is seeking to leverage suitable technologies to build a resilient food system for Nigeria.
“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,” the VP said.
He assured of significant improvements in crop yields, affordable and healthy diets, among others, through these policies.
Making a case for initiatives that support Africa and other developing countries, Osinbajo cited the example of when, as in the country and several others, population growth exceeds growth in national income, food supply would not meet the needs of people, especially when distribution systems are inequitable.
Post-harvest losses in Africa, and particularly in Nigeria, he noted, are more than 20 percent of production for several food groups, adding that this was 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 United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed commended the VP for leading six ministers, including the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, 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,” Mohammed said.
She said the summit was 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.