By Bennett Oghifo
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Federal Ministry of Environment is supporting implementation of the Fostering Sustainability and Resilience for Food Security in the Savanna Zones of Northern Nigeria.
The overall goal of this project is to enhance long-term sustainability and resilience of food production systems in Nigeria, by building greater community resilience to climate risks and other shocks that drive food insecurity.
To this effect, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Federal Ministry of Environment and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), which is hosting the Project Management Unit (PMU), held an Inception Workshop at the Women Farmers Advancement Network (WOFAN) Conference Hall in Kano, Kano State, recently to kick-start the implementation of the project.
Setting the tone for discussion and welcoming participants, the Focal Person on Environment, UNDP, Mr. Muyiwa Odele explained the importance of the project, stating that it was seen as a national priority by the Federal Government.
â€œThere is no better time to start talking of food security than now, considering the decline in oil prices worldwide and many countries are now phasing out dependence on oil.
â€œThe population of the country is increasing, therefore, we hope to strengthen the food chain system in the country against climate change, as well as work with both the state and federal levels in eventually feeding the country and beyond conveniently.â€
In his presentation, â€˜Integrated Landscape Management to Enhance Food Security and Ecosystem Resilience in Nigeria,â€™ a Climatologist and Lead Consultant of the project, Prof. Emmanuel Oladipo stated that the project was consistent with what the Federal Government was doing as part of the strategies to develop agriculture.
Prof. Oladipo said was really no need to import food for the country once agricultural potentials are tapped – a goal of the food security and ecosystem resilience project.
The project, he said is poised â€œto enhance productivity and promote sustainability and Resilience of Nigeriaâ€™s agricultural production systems for improved national food security in the face of dwindling oil revenues in the country and beyond.â€
Deputy Director, Agriculture Mechanisation, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Engr Abdullahi said the project had come to stay and that everything would be done sustain it.
â€œWomen will greatly benefit in the project as they are deeply involved in agricultural processing which is a target,â€ he said.
Founder and Executive Director, WOFAN, Hajia Salamatu Garuba lauded the project for being gender sensitive, saying it would â€œmake it a reality for women to come together and use agriculture as a livelihood.â€
According to her, â€œNutrition and adaptation to climate change are big components of the project expressed the hope that it will groom a lot of youth and women by attracting them to agriculture as a source of livelihood and discourage rural to city influx.â€
The five-year project is expected to begin next year in the seven states – Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Gombe, Adamawa, Nasarawa and Benue, which already have existing programmes on food security will have selected project sites in 70 communities of 13 LGAs of Dutsima, Musawa, Kabo, Gwarzo, Jahun, Katungo, Balanga, Yola South, Fufore, Akwanga, Kokona, Otukpo and Ukum, in reflection of the three major agro-ecologies of the Northern part of the Countryâ€™s Savannah Zones.
Agriculture shapes Nigeriaâ€™s physical landscape and remains a significant contributor to its economic and social landscape, accounting for some 22 per cent of national GDP and providing employment for about 70 per cent of the labour force. In past decades, slow growth in the agricultural sector and rapid increases in population shifted Nigeria from self-sufficiency in food production during the 1960s to heavy reliance on food imports from the 1980s onwards. Poor agricultural output and widespread poverty have resulted in extensive and persistent food insecurity. In 2015 Nigeria was ranked 91st out of 116 in the Global Hunger Index and 91st out of 108 in the Global Food Security Index.
In recent years, with declining oil prices the potential economic significance of the agricultural sector has grown. Nevertheless, the sector faces significant challenges including global warming and increasing climate variability. The potential for external shocks to further compound food insecurity and affect sector development is high. Therefore, future food security and wider economic development driven by a thriving agricultural sector require an integrated approach under which agricultural development and environmental sustainability develop in tandem, reducing risks to communities and enhancing the sustainable development of key value chains.