By Ndubuisi Francis
The federal government has called on the global community to adopt an integrated, targeted and well-coordinated approach to combat hunger in Africa.
Speaking at a roundtable in the ongoing virtual World Bank-IMF 2021 Spring Meetings on ‘Food Security in Africa: A Resilient Food System Beyond COVID-19’, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed called on the international community, particularly the multilateral institutions and the private sector to assist Africa to build food resilience.
She said: “We invite the international community, particularly the multilaterals and the private sector to key in and to assist Africa to build food resilience and pursue the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) number two and the goals of African Union (AU) Agenda 2063.”
In her opening remarks, Ahmed noted that a robust and secured food system is central to the health of both humans and the economies of nations, adding: “As the main source of nourishment and jobs for millions of the population, the conversation around the topic is critically well set.”
According to her, the food system is far from achieving its goal of feeding everyone, especially with sustainable diet, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated the perennial food shortages in Africa.
Some 230 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa, she noted, were still prone to chronic food insecurity, even when about one-third of food produced globally was regularly wasted.
The minister said it was indeed sad that even this year, there were still conversations on food wastages and chronic food shortages in some parts of the world.
Speaking on the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration on agriculture, she stated: “The vision is to work with key stakeholders to build an agribusiness economy capable of delivering sustained prosperity by meeting domestic food security goals, boosting exports, and supporting sustainable income and job growths.”
The minister said across Nigeria, farmers, traders and transporters were witnessing a shift in their fortunes.
The minister added that the agricultural sector was witnessing a revolution propelled by the president’s vision of a country.
Ahmed said the administration was supporting initiatives on agribusiness development initiatives in Nigeria, noting that more initiatives abound that the growing success story on agriculture in Buhari’s administration had prompted more youths to take up full-time agriculture.
The minister stressed that over seven million Nigerians were actively employed in agriculture under the administration’s diversification agenda while the Ministry of Agriculture was working to ensure that the sector offers 20 million jobs in the nearest future.
On the challenges facing the country, she noted that Nigeria, like other countries, faced critical challenges in her drive for food security.
These challenges affect both the upstream and downstream agricultural sector, she stated, proffering a way forward.
Ahmed said: “We believe that the current food situation is unsustainable. We strongly believe that given the quantum of arable land in Africa, the time to change the global support to commercial agriculture is now.
“This certainly requires FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) flows into the agriculture value chain. Our governments are prepared and are following up with necessary macroeconomics and fiscal reforms, including governance and institutional strengthening; and prioritising intra-Africa trade as well as structural reforms and public investments,” she said.