The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has reiterated its commitment to support the Federal Government‘s efforts to ensure food sufficiency.
FAO Country Representative, Fred Kafeero, said this at the 44th meeting of the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development (NCARD) in Abuja on Thursday.
He said that the theme of the meeting, which is “Nigeria’s Agriculture and Food Security in the face of COVID-19, Floods and Insecurity, ” was timely.
Kafeero, however, said that the theme was a call for action to cushion the knock-on effects of these shocks and threats on the livelihoods of a large section of the population, especially vulnerable groups.
He urged the government to provide enabling environment for private participation, creating synergy, engaging other sectors, interventions for smallholders farmers and scale up Agriculture Mechanisation Programme.
” I assure that FAO’s committment to support efforts of the Nigeria Government still stands, we are here to work with you and support you,” he said.
He said that there was need for urgent measures to protect the most vulnerable, keep the national agricultural supply chains functional and efficient, and mitigate the food security impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as insecurity across the country.
” The FAO and the UN System in Nigeria are therefore concerned that multiple impacts of COVID-19 and insecurity on economic activity and supply chains are limiting people’s ability to access food, increasingly restricting the cash liquidity of farmers and handicapping farmers’ ability to produce and market food, which in the longer term can seriously degrade their livelihoods.”
Also in his goodwill message, the Minister of Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) Alhaji Mohammed Bello, who was represented by the Special Assistant, Prof. Mohammed Usman, said the theme of the council meeting was apt.
” This year’s council meeting ” Agriculture and Food Security in the face of COVID – 19, Floods and Insecurity is apt enough and a reminder to the effect that we are yet to win the fight on COVID – 19 pandemic,” he said.
He said that there was need for robust interaction and ideas among stakeholders on how to reposition the agricultural sector.
Action Aid Country Director, Ene Obi, expressed concern over the inability of women farmers to go to farms due to fear of being raped, saying being the major producer of food in the country, it was important for government to fast track efforts to curtailing the spate of insecurity in the country.
She urged the Federal Government to increase budgetary allocation to the sector and create a specific budget line for smallholder women farmers.
Also, the Chairman, House Committee on Agricultural Production and Services, Rep. Mohammed Dandutse, expressed concerns that the alarming level of insecurity from the North to the South posed serious threat to agricultural production.
He said: ” food security is necessary to the development of peace in the country, hence the need to allocate more money to the sector”.