Nigeria needs more investment to tackle food insecurity, unemployment

Babban Gona, Africa’s largest maize grower, has called for more investment in Nigeria’s agricultural sector as part of measures to increase food security for the Nigerian population estimated to reach 400 million in 2050.

Kola Masha, chief executive officer of Babban Gona, made the assessment while commenting on the 2021 Food Security Report Launched recently.

He affirmed that “Nigeria ranks 98 out of 107 countries in 2020 Global Hunger Index with a score of 29.2 out of 100 points. About 9.2 million people in Nigeria were confronted with crisis levels of food insecurity between March and May this year amid insecurity, climate change, and the effect of COVID-19.”

He added that attaining food security requires intentional diverse approaches both within the public and private sectors.

Hence, holistic approaches to food security should be reciprocated by holistic national and international support strategies. The more farm communities, the greater our collective farm security, and ultimately food security as a nation.

According to him, “increased investment in smallholder farmers who make up more than 80percent of Nigerian farmers- many of whom are women and youths will improve agriculture productivity. This will enable the adoption of new technology inventions which is vital to guarantee food security and sustenance.”

Similarly, Stefania Lenoci, head of the private sector advisory and implementation unit at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said with timely support, smallholder farmers and medium-sized enterprises will have the strong potential to be at the heart of meeting the increasing demand for food and of revitalizing rural economies in Nigeria.

“To achieve this, we urgently need to channel more private sector investments to unleash the potential of millions of rural entrepreneurs involved in food processing, packaging, transport and trade,” he said.

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Pius Anyiador, portfolio manager, Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, stated that “Infrastructure investments and developments across the entire agricultural value chain are critical to having an encompassing solution to the myriad challenges faced in the agriculture sector.”

“Growth in the sector can be achieved through the creation of innovative financing solutions that serve to catalyze interest and investments from both public and private partnerships; as such significant attention needs to be given to the improvement of critical market infrastructure required to boost local agriculture production, improve pre and post-harvest management, enhance standardization and quality of products, and drive import substitution.”

According to Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor, the Federal Government along with the apex bank has implemented several intervention schemes in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, aimed at boosting employment generation & wealth creation, reducing our dependence on imported food items, conserving our foreign exchange earnings, and spurring economic growth.

These interventions in the agricultural sector, particularly the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) and Commodity Development Initiative (CDI), he noted has sought to strengthen key agricultural commodities’ value chains, enable improved productivity in the agricultural sector, land increase sourcing of inputs locally by stakeholders in the manufacturing sector.

“These programmes have also helped to improve our self-sufficiency in the production of key staples items, which is in line with the government food security objectives.”