• Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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How Nigeria can strengthen food system amid global challenges

Food prices still surging amid FG’s stabilisation plan

There are many challenges in the global food system occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, insecurity and Climate Change among a myriad of threats against the attainment of Global Food Security.

The population of the World will be about 10,000,000,000 come 2050 and if care is not taken there will not be sufficient food to feed this large population.

Africa will play a decisive role in the global food system if it harnesses its advantages of a large arable, irrigable land and resource rich aquaculture.

The need to optimize food production, processing, storage and marketing will be germane in order for Africa to impact the food system sustainability.

There is an ongoing UN Global Food System Dialogue to be launched formally in Italy come September, 2021 by the UN Secretary General that all of Africa should embrace, especially through AfCFTA.

Nigeria has the largest economy ahead of South Africa and a veritable food system that must be properly shored up to take advantage of the UN food system dialogue that may bring about the unification of the Global Food System.

Read Also: Nigeria’s food inflation among world’s highest

Nigeria must first of all stem the tide of the looming disaster by:

To forestall the looming food crises and bring down the present sky-rocketing prices of food items; we must resuscitate the Guaranteed Minimum Price (GMP), National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) and intervene to restock the Strategic Grains Reserve (SGR) between October and November 2021.

The looming distortion in the food system by skyrocketing prices of food items can be tamed by taking decisive action in 8 weeks when the new harvest will start entering our traditional food markets such as Dawanau, Saminaka, Giwa, Dandume, scheme and several others across the country.

This week has witnessed a marginal drop in food prices because early maturing crops have started hitting the market and the trend is likely to continue until it reaches a crescendo at the end of September and Mid-October.

Read Also: 13 million Nigerians are at risk of acute food insecurity

The right time to intervene by the FMARD through the SGR is at this point by resuscitating the GMP and transparently placing supply contracts.

We must set up a separate produce purchasing committee of upright individuals to work with the SGR to transparently perform this exercise.

The SGR should be freed from any encumbrance occasioned by the concession done in 2016/17/18 which left it with a mere 400,000 storage capacity out of its bandied 1.3million capacity attained between 2008/2010.

Whatever is strategically reserved can then be released in the first and Second quarters of 2022 to mitigate any inflationary trends and this intervention can be done again during the same period in the last quarter of 2022 for the year 2023!

The farmers will get a good price to be able to sustainably produce, the consumers will have fairly affordable prices and Nigeria will ultimately have sustainable food sufficiency and the much desired food security to bring about sustainable development which will eventually lead to attainment of the 17 SDG goals in the medium term as well as the ultimate Agenda 2050!

We can achieve these lofty ideals by doing the following:

1. Harmonize all the initiatives by the CBN, NALDA, FMARD and all cross-cutting efforts like the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) Food Security Council (FSC ), National Economic Council (NEC) etc. in the Agriculture Space.

2. The President should assent to the NFRA and NADF bills being processed by NASS as soon as they are presented.

3. Reappraise the FMARD by appointing competent persons to drive it.

4. Appoint a special adviser, who knows what to do on food security to work directly with the Food Security Council.

The current administration has taken very far reaching initiatives to make Agriculture work in Nigeria and it must be commended and eulogized appreciably.

One can list, albeit off the cuff, the CBN Anchor Borrower Scheme, the assent to several bills such as the Seed Act 2019, the PVP Act 2021 among several others and the list is really endless!

The obvious threat factor to the attainment of food sufficiency, however for now, is probity, competence and knowing what to do in the management of the entire food system and this calls for reinvigorating it by appointing capable and competent hands with integrity.

Ibrahim is national president, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN).