Experts Seek Review Of Nigeria’s Food Security Structure - THE ENCOUNTER NEWS


Sunday, August 2, 2020

Experts Seek Review Of Nigeria’s Food Security Structure

LAGOS - There is need to review Nigeria’s food security architecture in order to achieve sustainable food supply across the country, experts have said.

This was the submission of a cross-section of experts who spoke at the BusinessDay National Conversation Dialogue in Lagos, recently.

According to the experts, the review becomes inevitable in order to address the imminent of food crisis in the agricultural sub-sector.

Speaking on the urgent need for action in the agric sector, Motola Oyebanjo, Head of Corporate Affairs and Communications, Africa at Upfield Foods said conversations around improved food security and systems is a discussion that must be prioritised particularly now that Covid-19 has impacted socio-economic activities across the globe.

“Discussion around food systems during this pandemic is critical for both the private sector and public sector. It is important for the public sector because it requires a healthy and active populace to ensure that the economy runs smoothly. It is also important for businesses as the society must be thriving to ensure that products and services are profitable.

There are great potential and possibilities for the food and agricultural sector in Nigeria during and post-COVID-19 pandemic. We must imagine a new reality, proffer innovative solutions and take decisive action to ensure we harness them.”

While making proposal for effective and secure food reserve, Sani Dangote, the Vice Chairman at Dangote Foods, said Nigeria needs to review its strategies and establish a reserve system that would identify grains or other agricultural produce that can sustain the populace in case of shortage in produce at any time.

To achieve this, Dangote advocated for a central statistics that would, in one breath, show the quantity of agricultural produce such as rice or maize produced yearly in Nigeria at both the Federal and State levels.

“The country also needs to focus on the irrigation scheme to assist farmers in their crop production while a strong local sourcing policy is put in place in a coordinated approach among stakeholders in agriculture and the private companies that rely on agriculture,” Dangote said.

In his remarks on government’s response to food security, Aliyu Abdulhameed who is the Managing Director at Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL Plc), said the agency is working with the Central Bank of Nigeria to provide guarantees for farmers and other technical support need that they may require for a good harvest.

The CBN through the NIRSAL has put in place funds to boost smallholder farmers before, after and post COVID-19 by focusing on three things which are risk analysis, agriculture finance and development.

Echoing similar sentiments, Ndidi Okonkwo-Nwuneli, Co-founder at Sahel Consulting maintained that, pre-Covid, the agricultural sector in Nigeria has suffered poor data collation largely due to the non-collaborative attitude among some critical stakeholders in the sector.

“Our ecosystem was already fragile before the Covid-19 and we already have challenges around productivity, infrastructure, post-harvest losses among others. Covid-19 is presenting us with an opportunity to rebuild our agricultural landscape.

Not only in terms of collaboration which is critical for the public and private sector to ensure that we rebuild but also to ensure we have credible data, reimagining how our market is structured to allow social distancing, thinking through our policy framework because we need a multisector and cohesive approach to food.

We need to think about how we strengthen our SMEs because they are the bedrock of innovation in the ecosystem globally and Nigeria. Nigeria needs to commit to feeding itself and the rest of Africa,” said Okonkwo-Nwuneli.

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