• Wednesday, May 29, 2024
businessday logo


Funding zero hunger policies

Funding zero hunger policies

With more than 130 million Nigerians within the hunger index in Nigeria, Nigeria ranking 103rd out of 121 countries and a score of 27.3, Nigeria has a serious and acute hunger challenge. However, these data do not exactly reflect the extreme level of hunger in many communities in Nigeria. To see the terrifying level of hunger in our local communities, we need only visit the vast ungoverned spaces with the familiar features of hunger, dirty environment, poverty and lack of basic social infrastructures. To solve this compelling challenge, Nigeria needs a structured, sustainable and suitable strategy for funding zero hunger. By funding zero hunger, I do not mean giving free meals or money to millions of Nigerians who are multidimensionally poor. We need a systematic approach to financing real investments that contribute to bridging the gaps within the food value-chain in Nigeria.

To tackle the scourge of hunger, governments have a responsibility to go beyond designing zero hunger policies, they must have strategic objectives for supporting multifaceted efforts to eradicate hunger. This requires governments to closely collaborate with the private sector, international partners and non-profit sector in harnessing available resources to ensure that each individual is able to access food, nutritious and sufficient food relative to their caloric requirements. But this work goes beyond the benevolence of charitable organizations in providing food to persons in need of food, ending hunger requires more than the provision of food to those affected by hunger, it involves empowering citizens so that they can, as far as practically possible, provide that food for themselves.

After ten months of providing humanitarian assistance in ensuring that no one is left hungry in vulnerable communities, particularly in communities with Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), we are happy that we have touched nineteen thousand Nigerians directly through the Feed the Hungry Programme of T200 Foundation. But as we reviewed the cost of funding for feeding poor people in Nigeria, we have realized that more needs to be done. Governments have either allocated too little to solving hunger crises in the past or the billions allocated are wrongly channelled to the insatiable pockets of the rich.

Read also: Zero hunger governance for Nigeria

For private companies, both their corporate social responsibilities and for-profit investments must prioritize mechanized agriculture and food systems. In Nigeria for instance, the private sector should be creative enough to look beyond investment in the energy sector, to harness the enormous economic potential of the food security sector. With the Russian-Ukraine war, which contributes more to the global food crisis, every nation, particularly those that are naturally endowed and situated for agricultural productivity, must see the endless business opportunities that the agricultural sector provides. More than investments, private companies must go beyond profit to ensure that ordinary people have access to nutritious food.

The government, in designing and implementing food security strategies must consider the enabling factors for food productivity and food security, such as social infrastructure, provision of agricultural produce support like fertilizer, transform planting processes and ensure quality in harvest and storage systems. More importantly, governments must strive to achieve inclusive development and equitable economic growth that help raise the purchasing power of the poor, which in turn will create incremental demand, and generate new jobs. Hunger and malnutrition stem from a variety of economic, environmental and political issues, governments must adopt an integrated and cross-policy approach and promote synergies between social protection, sustainable agriculture, nutrition, health and education policies.

Read also: Hunger stares 4.5m Nigerians in the face on climate shocks, conflicts

Given the fabric of Nigeria’s federalism, the federal government, in working together to achieve zero hunger, must empower local authorities. Local and sub-national authorities have direct access to the individuals, communities and businesses whose involvement is essential in actualizing the Zero Hunger goal. Notwithstanding that agriculture is both under the concurrent and residual legislative lists, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture should design and provide the 774 local governments in Nigeria with the tools and support they need to assist, work alongside and constantly engage them as key stakeholders in ending hunger in Nigeria. Local governments in Nigeria must understand the critical situations of their people and provide sincere and bold leadership that will empower their people. This is not the time for “chop I chop” politics, this time is for people-driven politics and people must be the central political consideration in governance.

The ambition and depth of zero hunger require a coordinated commitment of every stakeholder and the non-profit sector has a defining role of ensuring accountability in government policy proposals, government spending and equal opportunities for everyone. How exactly do we ensure that policies and investments aimed at reducing inequality, addressing the gender gap, and providing food for everyone, achieve the desired purposes? The answer lies in responsible leadership, but good leadership can only be achieved when public officials are held accountable for their actions and inactions. Non-profit organizations must go beyond statements and financial reports, to ensure that the people are truly the beneficiaries of public policies for zero hunger.

Read also: Achieving zero hunger in Nigeria

Everyone should be involved. No is too small nor too big to get involved, because it is about safeguarding humanity. As we talk about the trio responsibility of government, private sector and non-profit sectors, we must also turn to the academia – our university communities must become incubators of knowledge and innovations that create and coordinate channels of efforts to achieve zero hunger in Nigeria. As for us at the T200 Foundation and T200 Integrated Farms, we will continue to invest in a food value chain that sustainably contributes to reducing hunger in every community in Nigeria.

Osadebay, is the Executive Director, T200 Foundation