Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is leading the federal government’s collaboration with the United Nations to curb hunger, combat malnutrition, and reduce poor diet-related diseases, among others.
This is in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within a decade and the globally acclaimed Sustainable Development Goals.
The federal government and the United Nations had led series of public dialogues at national and sub-national levels that culminated in the presentation of the Nigeria Food Systems mapping report to state governments across the six geo-political zones.
Osinbajo made the presentation in Abuja yesterday at a Consolidatory Dialogue for the UN Food Systems Summit attended by some governors, the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, Ms. Amina Mohammed, members of the Federal Executive Council, Nigeria’s development partners, and other dignitaries from the academia, private and public sectors.
Speaking at the event, the vice president said aside from the goal of realising 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and guaranteeing food security for a growing population, the sustainable food systems effort fit into the plan of the Buhari administration to eliminate poverty in Nigeria.
He said: “For the government of Nigeria, our commitment to sustainable food systems is one of the key strategies for eliminating poverty across Nigeria.
“We know that our target of lifting a hundred million Nigerians out of poverty within a decade is only achievable if we focus on substantially improving agriculture and food systems which assure us of not just good food, but also jobs.
“This perspective on addressing hunger, malnutrition, and poverty runs through our policy frameworks, including our recently launched National Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy, and our Nutrition Policy that addresses the issues of a sustainable and nutrition-sensitive food system.”
Osinbajo stressed the need to develop more efficient food systems, adding that the nation’s food system must be resilient enough to significantly impact nutrition security and collective efforts must reduce the malnutrition numbers.
He emphasised the need to realise that defining bold steps to improve food systems and by extension, food security, ensure that children have improved health, early development and increased intellectual and emotional readiness to learn.
This, he explained, will translate to positive school engagement and improves the potential of children growing into healthy adults.
“On the other hand, imagine a generation of adults who suffer arrested physical and mental health, and the social and economic burden on their families, their communities and the nation. Imagine the implications of approximately 50% of Nigeria’s population being at risk if we do not get it right.”
Osinbajo urged stakeholders to translate the recommendations of the dialogues to prompt action, noting that it would mean embracing the changes required in modernisation of farming practices, mechanisation, and reduction of post-harvest losses.
“We must ensure that we practice environmentally sustainable production; we must empower our communities by creating jobs and livelihoods to sustain the food systems we desire,” the vice president added.
Osinbajo said the call by the United Nations Secretary-General on sustainable food systems was apt and timely, adding that it provides the opportunity to re-examine all the elements of the food system in Nigeria.
“I have no doubt that the 39 dialogues held nationally and sub-nationally have been accessible to all stakeholders and able to identify those challenges that still, clog our wheel of progress especially in the relevant sectors,” he said.
(Cambridge University Press, January, 2021) By Professor Damilola S. Olawuyi, SAN, FCIArb, Professor of Law and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti
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