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Nigeria’s Current Food System Weak, Vulnerable To Shocks, Says Minister

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The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mustapha Shehuri, has described the country’s food system as weak and vulnerable to shocks.

Shehuri disclosed this on Monday at this year’s Feed Nigeria Summit held in Abuja.

Represented by the Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Hajia Karima Babangida, Shehuri said the summit would assist the Ministry to re-examine the weak link, with a view to strengthening it for an agricultural system that will work for Nigeria and stabilise food security.

He said the Ministry was determined to create a functional food system that will guarantee all citizens unrestricted access to good quality, nutritious and safe food.

“This underscores the various programmes and interventions that are on-going in the Ministry in areas of agricultural livelihood and support, food safety, and the provision of infrastructure in different ecological zones of the country”, he said.

He added that for a sustainable food system, the country must rise to overcome the challenges of poor-quality food supplies, hunger, malnutrition, and improper habit of promoting food wastage.

“This is the acceptable consumption behaviour globally to which the average Nigerian, especially in the urban areas, pays little or no attention.

“If we devote so much to produce, we should pay more attention to avoid waste, because of its negative economic and environmental impact”, he added.

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Also speaking, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Nanono, said the country may produce enough food to eat, but people will still sleep with hunger because they did not have enough money to buy the food.

He attributed the problem to unemployment, which inhibited people from earning money for food, rent or education, identifying this as a great challenge to the nation.

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“I recently met with some young Nigerians who are into processing and synergising agriculture with industry, and that is exactly what we need in this country.

“Unless we create that relationship and make it strong, poverty will persist.

“There is no single seminar on agriculture that I have attended that does not mention our value chains, we have done a lot in that regard and we have even gained international recognition.

“If we do not focus on how to remove this fundamental issue of an army of unemployed youths and move them to be gainfully employed, we are doing nothing, the relationship between the agricultural sector and the industrial sector is a must,” he said.

Nanono said the Federal Government had continued to implement new strategies to aid the development of the agricultural sector and strengthen the value chain.

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“The focus of the National Agricultural Transformation and Innovation Plan (NATIP) is to aid a new strategy that will strengthen the agricultural financial system, reduce food imports and help to refocus attention on agriculture as a key driver of the Nigerian economy, he said.

He lamented that Nigeria still imported a significant amount of food and was not earning as much foreign exchange as we should from agriculture.

The Minister said for this reason it had become imperative to re-strategize and deploy innovation, to tackle the longstanding issues and lead Nigeria towards food sufficiency.

Nanono said this year’s Summit will explore pathways that can help build Nigeria’s agribusiness ecosystem efficiently, and sustainably.

He said the Ministry was committed to continuously working to support key value chain activities, such as input distribution, farm production, processing, distribution and marketing, by providing better coordination and infrastructural support.

The Minister said the government will also continue to deliver interventions that address the challenges in the value chain, especially the need to strengthen and position the agricultural sector for growth post-COVID 19.

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The Director, Agribusiness Enabling Environment, of Feed The Future, Mr. James Ebuetse said the theme for this year’s summit “Post-Covid-19: A Repaired Food System, Pathway to a Revived Economy” resonated strongly with events around the world and points out the need to focus our energy on strengthening the nation’s agriculture sector in a post-COVID-19 economy.

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He said Feed The Future, Nigeria Agribusiness Investment activity was a five-year USAID-funded programme, which aimed to strengthen the enabling environment for agribusiness finance and investment in Nigeria.

“So far, we have facilitated the review and approval of five agriculture related policies in Nigeria and facilitated 32 consultative processes on agriculture enabling environment policies, some of these will result in the approval of more policies”, he added.

Ebuetse further said that the programme had also facilitated over $96 million dollars in agriculture related debt and non-debt financing for over 11,000 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

He said the facilitation focused on the rice, maize, soybean, cowpea and aquaculture value chains in seven states of Benue, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Kaduna, Kebbi and Niger States”, Ebuetse said. 

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