The Vice President of Nigeria, Prof Yemi Osinbajo has said that urgent steps need to be taken to ensure sustainable and all-inclusive food systems, even as the country’s population continues to skyrocket.
According to the VP, Nigeria’s rapid population growth, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, pose a critical challenge in attaining sufficiency in food production,
Osinbajo revealed this at the inception ceremony of the United Nations Food Systems Summit Dialogue for Nigeria held in Abuja on Tuesday.
The dialogue which was organised by the United Nations in Nigeria in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Finance and Budget Planning among other stakeholders seeks to identify the country’s food systems challenges from multi-perspectives.
In a virtual address, the Osinbajo noted the need for the country to embrace environmentally friendly approaches while seeking to achieve food security.
He said, “The issue of developing a sustainable food system has never been more urgent. In our case, perhaps, we are faced with a population that exceeds growing figures, which has become crucial, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Malnutrition and unhealthy dietary practices create the reflexes to health and productivity. It is a critical challenge to produce enough food for the rapidly growing population, especially given the changes required from the farming practices, mechanization and reduction of post-harvest losses.
“These issues are pertinent in ensuring environmentally sustainable production practices, creating empowering jobs and livelihoods, and building capacities to ensure sustainable and healthy food systems”.
The VP further stated that while questions around environmentally acceptable production methods are important and require expertise and experience, decision-makers also need to hear from those at the receiving end, the good people of Nigeria.
He lauded the efforts of the organisers in putting together such critical dialogue added that the deliberations should take a close look at Nigeria’s nuanced issues so that it can help to address peculiar challenges.
“The Secretary-General of the United Nations deserves our commendation for this proactive initiative, especially its importance in urgently achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
“This dialogue and other independent dialogues must be accessible to all. The key communication materials should not be too technical and must be easily understood by all,” Osinbajo said.
In her remarks, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed said that the summit, which is one of many was organised to establish the future direction of Nigeria’s food system as well as accelerate collective actions aimed at improving the country’s food system.
The inception dialogue, according to her, was envisioned to create more inclusive, healthier food systems and encourage a collaborative approach towards building a sustainable one.
She said it was in line with the efforts to achieve all of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, SDG by 2030, while lauding António Guterres for keeping food security in the frontline of global agenda.
Ahmed also pointed the importance of food security adding that “If we do not have food security, we face an existential challenge.
“The Nigeria food system dialogue is required to improve nutrition, achieve food security, reduce hunger and diminish the prevalence of malnutrition”.
Ahmed further lauded the efforts of Muhammadu Buhari’s administration towards eradicating malnutrition through the domestication of policies and strategic plans.
She called on all relevant stakeholders to continue to work collaboratively with the government at all levels while striving to work hand in hand with private sector and development partners and also to continuously engage the citizens in the process.
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