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NGO tasks govt, development partners on action to transform food systems

CAFS, an NGO, has called on governments and development partners to help drive action that would transform Nigeria’s food systems.

By Felicia Imohimi

Community Action for Food Security (CAFS), an NGO, has called on governments and development partners to help drive action that would transform Nigeria’s food systems for the well-being of the populace.

Executive Director of CAFS, Mr Azeez Salawu, made the call at the virtual UN Food Systems Independent Dialogue (FSSD) convened by the organisation on Tuesday.

The dialogue is titled “Adaptive Approaches for Food Systems Sustainability in Nigeria”.

Salawu said the objective of the meeting was to “spark critical discussion, inspire, engage, network, connect and form a formidable partnership that will be based on investing in food security and rural development leading to the achievement SDGs,”.

He, therefore, urged all tiers of governments and partners to help drive action through more strategic programmes that have a direct impact on small scale farmers, youth and women in agriculture.

The director further advocated robust extension services and an easy access market across the agricultural value chain.

Salawu explained that such action would go a long way in addressing “serious deterioration of food production systems currently bedeviling the country.

“As we commence the decade of action in the attainment of the 2030 SDGs, we call on leaders to find a pathway for more participation of young people.

“The FSSD is coming at the right time as we are also faced with a pandemic that has made it even worst for our small scale farmers to operate in their respective communities thereby reducing their profits and also affecting the economy,” he said.

According to him, the hunger virus is also around as a lot of poor people have been affected.

“For us at CAFS, we strongly believe that there is a need for new policies that will be tailored for a better economy and the environment.

“All hands must be on deck especially as we adapt to the new normal.

“Climate change is another challenge to the Nigeria food system and the environment which calls for more synergy as we need to adapt to the various effects of climate change.

“The small scale farmers should be put into consideration as they are mostly affected by the effect of climate change,” he said.

Salawu gave the assurance that CAFS would continue to guide, strengthen and equip young farmers through continuous awareness, linkages and more support to enhance proper adaptation to climate change for a better food system sustainability in Nigeria.

Earlier, Mrs Idowu Olusola, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, lauded the organiser of the conference.

Olusola said that the conference was aimed at launching a bold new action to deliver progress on all the 17 SDGs which in a large extent relate to a healthier, equitable and sustainable food system.

She identified food systems as touching every aspect of human existence describing the systems as having the power to bring people together as families, communities and nations.

The permanent secretary, however, emphasised that when food systems failed, the resulting disorder threatens the education, health and economy, as well as human rights, peace and security.

“The food and nutrition security in Nigeria today faces enormous challenges.

“These challenges emanate from climate changes, insurgency that displaced population from having access to their farmlands, land tenure system, poor investment in food production and poor processing, inadequate preservation resulting in huge losses.

“Also poor handling of foods, as well as inadequate monitoring and implementation of regulatory frameworks.

“The fragilities and inequalities of our food systems has resulted in general lack of food, hunger and starvation which millions of people around the various states of the Federation, including the FCT have experienced, even during the COVID-19 Pandemic,” she said.

The Food System Dialogue (FSSD) according to her, is expected to improve food and nutrition security in Nigeria, reduce hunger and the prevalence of malnutrition.

“It is also to create a more inclusive healthier food system, encourage collaborative approach towards building a food system in Nigeria and hence the achievement of the SDGs,” she said.

She explained that in an effort to ensure that the food systems are more sustainable, inclusive and resilient; the Nigerian government being a member of the UN was working with multiple stakeholders.

Such collaboration, according to her, is to contribute to making substantial and positive changes in the food system. (NAN)