In order to form a formidable partnership that will be based on investing in food security and rural development so as to make food available for consumers, Community Action on Food Security Initiative recently organised a one-day forum in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The programme, which came under the theme, ‘The role of stakeholders in harnessing Nigeria’s agricultural potential for food security, nutrition and sustainable development’, was part of the organisation’s activities to mark this year’s World Food Day.
Speaking at the event, Azeez Akanni Salawu, executive director, Community Action on Food Security Initiative, affirmed that the forum which attracted consumers, famers, academicians, was necessary as it would in turn lead to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“The summit will spark critical discussions, inspire, engage, network, connect and form a formidable affiliation that will be based on investing in food security and rural development leading to the achievement of the SDGs,” Salawu said.
In his remarks, Nteranya Sanginga, director-general of International of Tropical Agriculture Ibadan (IITA), explained that what is needed in Africa is the political and collective will to act.
According to him, Africa could achieve the SDGs especially goal number 2, also known as Zero Hunger by 2030 if governments on the continent made a departure from mere rhetoric to taking action.
Looking at global trends, the IITA boss said that by 2050, Africa’s population will double.
“What that means is that we will have to feed more people. We will need more jobs for our youths. We will need more land, water, among others to produce food.
“Clearly, if we continue with a business as usual approach, we will be in trouble,” he added.
The IITA DG also spoke on the disturbing trends of youth unemployment in Africa, citing that in Nigeria, between 2001 and 2010; 22 million young people entered the labour market in search of jobs.
“Some of these young people end up without decent jobs. In spite of our arable land, majority of African farmers are poor, most of them living on less than two dollars a day. Again, malnutrition is widespread. So, we need to act and change this narrative”, Sanginga, who was represented by Godwin Atser, IITA Communication and Knowledge Exchange expert, said.
Sanginga, however, said that there was a ray of hope for the continent and he cited some of the achievements made by IITA which culminated in the winning of the Africa Food Prize as a centre for research excellence.
He said the youth programme at IITA, that is providing decent jobs for young people in agriculture, was a model that African nations could embrace and replicate to solve youth unemployment on the continent.
Also, he noted that some of the breakthroughs if scaled out could lift Africa out of poverty and bring the continent on the path of prosperity. These include IITA improved varieties of cassava, maize, soybean, yam, banana/plantain, and cowpea that are resistant to pest and diseases, and high yielding.
“Besides, we also have several other initiatives/projects that have demonstrated how countries can transform agriculture. For instance, the IITA Cassava Weed Management Project clearly demonstrates the possibility of doubling cassava yield from the current national average of 10 tons/ha to more than 20 tons per ha,” he added.
Tags: food security