The Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO, Tuesday, assured commitment on collaborations to drive and achieve resilient Agric-food systems in West Africa and Sahel.
The assurance was given by the FAO Representative in Nigeria and to ECOWAS, Fred Kafeero, in a welcome address at the opening ceremony of the Sub-Regional Office for West Africa 13th Multidisciplinary Team Meeting in Abuja.
Kafeero said the MDT aims to deliberate on the current food and nutrition situations in the West African sub-region.
He also explained that with the MDT there will be an opportunity to enhance stronger collaborations including joint planning and mutual accountability that would enable a resilient Agri-food system in the sub-region.
The theme of the 3-day 13th Multi-Disciplinary Team meeting is ‘Joining efforts to build resilient Agrifood systems in West Africa and Sahel’.
He said: “This MDT aims to deliberate on the current food and nutrition situation in the West Africa sub-region, its determinants, and mitigation measures.
“It will also offer an opportunity to enhance collaboration, joint planning, and mutual accountability in driving actions towards a resilient Agri-food Systems in West Africa and Sahel.”
He also made it known that FAO in Nigeria has developed close collaboration with the Federal Government of Nigeria via its ministries and agencies in terns of partnership to build resilient Agri-food systems.
“FAO here in Nigeria has close collaboration with Government partners in building resilient Agri-food Systems. Working with the UN Resident Coordinators office, we provided support to the National Convener of the UN Food Systems Summit in facilitating national dialogues with key stakeholders across the federal, state, and local government levels, to gather the opinions of Nigerians about how to transform national food systems and ensure sustainable food and nutrition for all. More than 4,000 people in all categories participated in these dialogues”, he said.
He further stated that on implementation of Nigeria’s food systems, “We are now working in close partnership with other Rome-Based Agencies to strengthen the implementation of Nigeria’s food systems pathways.
“FAO is putting emphasis on the area of data and analytics for generation of evidence to guide responsible investments and partnerships for food systems transformation.
Meanwhile, he (Kafeero) commended the Nigerian government for taking advantage of FAO’s Hand in Hand Initiative, Green Cities Initiative, and the Digital Village Initiative.
“We commend the Government for taking full advantage of FAO Corporate initiatives including the Hand in Hand Initiative, Green Cities Initiative, and the Digital Village Initiative.
“These initiatives have provided platforms for greater synergies in building transformative partnerships for investments in digital agricultural solutions aimed at improved food security, nutrition, poverty reduction, and rural transformation.
“Our Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) is now operational, with a dedicated team of experts supporting government in the areas of animal health emergency preparedness and mitigation through surveillance and early warning systems”, he added.
Meanwhile, he commended ECOWAS in joining FAO to advance Food Security and Nutrition, “We are glad our partners from ECOWAS are joining us to advance Food Security and Nutrition in West Africa and to contribute to knowledge sharing regarding challenges, threats, and opportunities to move agri-food systems in the region towards sustainability.”
In declaring the 13th Multi-Disciplinary Team meeting open, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, described the theme of the meeting as apt, saying it is in accordance with the Federal Government of Nigeria’s strategic framework for the next decade, which seeks to support the 2030 Agenda and rural transformation to move efficient, inclusive resilient, and sustainable agri-food system that is better production, better nutrition, better environment and a better life and living no one behind.
Abukakar also assured FAO of Nigeria’s willingness to partner with FAO and other development partners in driving actions toward a resilient agri-food system in the country in particular including West Africa and Sahel in general.
He said: “I therefore commend FAO for putting up this theme as area of discussion on the continual multi-disciplinary team meeting MDT and for guiding itself with our effort to make Nigeria, food and nutrition secure.
“It is thought provocative and I am optimistic the participants will do justice to it. This meting is coming as an opportunity and same time based on the devastating effects of climate change as it challenges utilizing national resources is and threatening planning and this is major issue facing agriculture.
“For Nigeria, the food and nutrition center is to witness a transformation of our human capital capacity and for our economy, socio development through improved productivity, and prevention of disease and poverty.
“The food system and food and nutrition centre is currently covered in the country’s mid-term plan.
“Nigeria’s mid-term planning 2021-2025 which focuses on building a sustainable economy, enlarging agricultural output production, improving access to quality education, available health care and productivity, and enhancing social inclusion and reducing poverty.
“In this other linkages we join with other cultural development with food security, nutrition, health, environmental sustainability, rural development and peace building is very clear.”
However, the Minister called for coordinated multidisciplinary, multisectoral approaches.
“Therefore, it is important to stress the need for coordinated multidisciplinary, multisectoral approaches in managing agricultural development issues.
“On our part, the Federal Government in Nigeria has taken adequate steps and measures for the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP) 2021-2025.
“Furthermore, the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, is seeking deliberate efforts to increase investment , food and nutrition with relevant development processes and I believe pleased to inform you this type of effort has started showing positive results in our journey to ensure national self-sufficiency in priority food commodities in including rice and other cereals.
“In spite of our modest achievement, food and nutrition security remain a big challenging for us, according to the Cadre Harmonise, CH, food security analysis released last week, about 14.4 million people are facing emergency food crisis and insecurity in 2021 States where the analysis was conducted.
“However, there are opportunities to achieve under the NDP 2021-2025. This includes the establishment of viable system that would guide and coordinate food and nutrition activities as well as the use of mitigation indicators for monitoring and evaluation of development impact”, he added.
In a remark, the ECOWAS Commissioner of Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Sekou Sangare, spoke on issues bordering food and nutrition; environment, climate change as they affect West Africa.
According to Sangare ECOWAS has made efforts and had come up with various initiatives via the ECOWAS Commission to address food and nutrition insecurity in West Africa in collaboration with FAO and various development partners.
He also talked about the efforts of various member states in achieving food security. For example, he talked about the rice and the steps taken by Nigerian government to attain rice self-sufficiency.
He also mentioned other countries such as Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Ghana, and other ECOWAS countries are doing one thing or the other to achieve food self-sufficiency using various commodities like rice like cereals.
However, lamented the impact of climate change on the environment as it currently affects agriculture, livelihoods, and economies.
On the solutions to these challenges, he (Sangare) said ECOWAS is partnering with FAO, and also the 15 ECOWAS member states too partner to tackle the challenges