The Federal Government has reassured millions of small-scale farmers working towards the attainment of food security in Nigeria of its full support.
The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri, made this known during the Food Safety Stakeholders’ forum in continuation of activities to commemorate the 2021 edition of the World Food Day, themed “Our actions are our future. Better production, better nutrition, better environment and a better life” held in Abuja.
Shehuri, who described the theme of the celebration as apt against the background of exploring food systems that should work for Nigeria, highlighted that the objective of the celebration is to end hunger, malnutrition, poverty and ensure that everyone has physical and economic access to safe and nutritious food.
He pointed out that the forum is an innovation, expected to deliver robust, impactful ideas towards ensuring quality food supply, improve nutritional status and reduce hunger in the country.
Shehuri expressed optimism that the forum will proffer solutions to the rejection of Nigeria’s agricultural commodities by the European Union, adding that the forum should also find possible ways to improve global acceptance of the agricultural commodities for export without fear of rejection by the international community.
The minister reassured stakeholders that the resource persons and selected discussants will do justice on the subject matter.
In his presentation titled “Food safety export to market”, chief executive officer, Global Good Agricultural Practice (Global G.A.P), Captain John Okpaku, said the company is training Nigerian farmers on the best handling of agro products for export, standardization of made-in-Nigeria products, introduction of farmers’ card for traceability and how to overcome the gaps in the production and trade of agro-products.
Other papers presented – ‘Food safety: The table end’ by Mrs. Fabiyi Alice Olukemi from the Agriculture Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN) and ‘Food Fraud’ by deputy director in the ministry, Dr. Oyeleke Rasaq – stressed the need for people to be careful and conscious of the choices they make about their food consumption.
In a related development, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, presented awards to distinguished Nigerians for their outstanding contributions and performance in the development of Nigeria’s food and agriculture sector.
“We deemed it necessary to acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of distinguished Nigerians that have made remarkable contributions to the achievements recorded by the country. The achievements are a prelude to our goal of achieving ‘Zero Hunger’ and becoming a food secure nation, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he said.
He said it was on record that agriculture was the only sector in Nigeria that recorded marginal growth during the peak of COVID-19 spanning the 4th quarter of 2019 to 1st and 2nd quarters of 2020, with an average contribution of 24.23 per cent to the country’s GDP (National Bureau of Statistics’ 1st/2nd Quarter Report, 2020). The impressive 2021 2nd quarter growth rate of 5.01 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) released in August by the NBC had agriculture (crop production) and food manufacturing as major contributors.
The objective of the celebration, he said, was to promote global effective action to end hunger, malnutrition and poverty while ensuring that everyone at all times and place have physical and economic access to food.
He reiterated the focus of President Muhammad’s Buhari’s economic diversification agenda as the next alternative to oil for growth and development.
A statement by the ministry’s director of information, signed by the principal information officer, Mrs. Juliet Okeh, said the award recipients were governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Alhaji Muhammad Damakka, Otunba Dr Gabriel Ogunsanaya, Dr Ayoola Oduntan, Dr. Graham Hefer, Alhaji Shehu Muazu, Mrs. Catherine Ezenyirieka, the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Zaria.