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Combating food insecurity

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ON Tuesday, the world celebrated World Food Day. It is celebrated every October 16. The day was designated by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to bring attention to how governments and individuals can help combat world hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity.

World Food Day is not only a day when people celebrate the founding of the U.N. Food & Agriculture Organisation but is also a day when people take action to try and get rid of hunger during their lifetimes. It is also a day for people to reflect on that fact that food is a basic human right.

In its bid to tackle food insecurity world over, the United Nations in 1945,l set aside October 16, as the World Food Day. The objective of the day is to increase public awareness about the problem of hunger and malnutrition and this may be done by promoting agriculture and farmers.
The theme for 2018 World Food Day is “Our Actions are our Future. A Zero Hunger by the year 2030 is possible”.

The U.N. has set a goal of achieving zero hunger worldwide by 2030, and on World Food Day, the FAO asks governments, farmers, organisations and individuals to get involved in working toward a world where everyone has reliable access to enough nutritious food — i.e. food security.
According to experts, zero hunger means working together to ensure everyone, everywhere, has access to the safe, healthy and nutritious food they need.

To achieve it, we must adopt a more sustainable lifestyle, work with others, share our knowledge and be willing to help change the world – for the better.

In the Food and Agricultural Organisation’s 2018 State of Food Security and Nutrition World Report, over 820 million people are suffering chronic undernourishment.

Food is an essential ingredient that is needed for the survival of man, animal and other living things.
No doubt, Nigeria is blessed with human and arable soil that is required for large scale agriculture. It has the potential of exporting its agricultural produce that will generate revenue for the growth of the nation.

Unfortunately, over 90% of Nigeria’s agricultural output comes from peasant farmers who dwell in remote rural areas and engage traditional farming methods.

Despite the Nation’s abundant human and natural resources, Nigeria is still unable to feed her citizens as a lot of food items are being imported.
However, Nigeria experiences food insufficiency due to poor road network, linking urban and rural centres. As a result of this, most of this food item rotten at the point of harvest and transportation.

Other problems include: inadequate finance, insufficient irrigation system, and food storage facilities, as well as natural disaster.
In Nigeria, different policies of government on agriculture, such as: Operation Feed the Nation, Green Revolution Programme, Directorate of Food, Road and Rural Agriculture, and Agriculture Transformation Agenda, among others, have been used towards the production of food in the country.

Also at the states level, governments have put policies towards the improvement of agriculture and food production.

Commenting on this year’s World Food Day, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, noted that the policy of the current administration in the agriculture sector is founded on a number of principles which include treating agriculture as business; food as human right; adoption of value chain approach and prioritizing crops; factoring climate change and environmental sustainability to agricultural production; encouraging the practice of nutrition-sensitive agriculture, as well as linking agriculture with other sectors of the economy.

The minister, who was represented by the Director, Planning, Policy Coordination and Monitoring Department in the Ministry Nasiru Adamu said various policies of the current administration in the agricultural sector have started to yield fruits especially in the area of rice production, a development which is making Nigeria to become self- sufficient in rice production.

“It is now evident that we are on the path to becoming self- sufficient in rice production. Indeed I have no doubt in my mind that Nigeria can be a model for Africa and the world if we join forces and act on evidence. No nation in the world can attain food security if it depends on food importation”, he stated.

Ogbeh assured that the ministry is working assiduously to achieve zero hunger in the country through the introduction of various initiatives like provision of fertilizers and other inputs, reduction of post- harvest losses and the expansion of market access. He did not forget to mention the deepening of financial sector engagement with agribusiness value chains and improvement of ease of doing agribusiness in Nigeria’s Agriculture sector.

Contributing, the Country Representative of Food and Agriculture organisation (FAO), Mr. Suffyan Koroma, said for Nigeria to be free from hunger by year 2030 requires effective legislation, development in energy, transportation, education and legal framework, among others, are to be put in place for agriculture sector to survive and achieve zero hunger in the nearest future.

“Nigeria should be free from hunger by the year 2030. But that does not rest in agriculture as we know it, it goes beyond Agriculture we have to look to other complimentary services of agriculture, they are equally variables as what we produce from the farm. If we produce without adding value, it does not make sense. How do we control animal diseases, pests, conflicts, flooding are the issues to be considered” he stated.
To ensure food sufficiency, farmers should be trained on the use, maintenance and sustained durability of mechanized farm tools.

The Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria should rise, co-ordinate, supervise and implement agricultural breakthrough to enhance abundant food production in the country.

Also, Government at all levels should provide fertilizer to farmers at subsidized rate to enhance food security in the country.
The Federal and State Government should provide soft loans to farmers to ease the problem of lack of finance, which is one of the major problems hindering surplus of food.

Furthermore, government cannot shoulder the responsibility alone, there is the need for private investors to collaborate with government to ensure food sufficiency in the country.

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