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Sahel Consulting convenes food systems conference in partnership with AGRA, GIZ, EU, FMARD

Sahel Consulting convenes food systems conference in partnership with AGRA, GIZ, EU, FMARD

On Thursday, September 15th, 2022, Sahel Consulting Agriculture & Nutrition Limited in partnership with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the European Union, and with support from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), convened the first Sahel Food Systems Changemakers Conference in Abuja.

The event, themed Curbing the Nigerian Food Crisis: Ensuring Resilience and Sustainability in the Agribusiness Landscape attracted over 300 participants across the public, private, donor, non-profit and civil society sectors.

The Conference builds on national commitments from the UN Food Systems Summit to highlight critical questions around food and nutrition security in Nigeria and discuss opportunities to build a more resilient and equitable food system by investing in Nigerian agribusinesses.

A dynamic lineup of dignitaries and speakers delivered goodwill remarks and engaged in insightful discussions on the realities of food and nutrition insecurity facing millions of Nigerians.

The welcome address at the conference was delivered by Temitope Adegoroye, the managing partner, Sahel Consulting who highlighted the importance of collaboration and engagement of the private sector to drive food systems transformation, build a resilient ecosystem and foster growth. He further asserted Sahel Consulting’s readiness to partner all relevant stakeholders to ensure accelerated growth.

Adeniyi Adebayo, the minister, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment (FMITI), delivered the first goodwill message. As an avid champion for the private sector, he encouraged investors to build strategic partnerships and invest into Nigeria’s property crops such as oil palm and cassava.

He also stressed the efforts made by the Federal government in implementing the Nigerian National Quality Policy, aimed at putting in place the necessary regulatory framework and infrastructure to ensure that Nigeria’s agricultural products attain global standards.

The permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the National Convenor of Nigeria Food Systems Summit Dialogue (FSSD) Olusola Idowu also delivered a goodwill message.

In her remarks, she reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment to the implementation of all the recommendations made in the National Food Systems Transformation Pathways.

On behalf of the deputy dovernor, Financial Systems Stability, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Aishah Ahmad, Valentine Ururuka, deputy director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department of CBN delivered the goodwill message.

In his message, he highlighted some of CBN’s developmental initiatives aimed at proactively galvanizing agricultural production towards meeting the requirements of Nigeria’s growing population, such as the bank’s flagship initiative, the Anchor Borrowers Programme focused on sustaining food supply and security by providing critical support to small holder farmers across the country.

In his goodwill message, Markus Wagner, country director of GIZ reiterated that food security is indeed a top priority for the German government in Nigeria. He mentioned some of GIZs efforts in Nigeria to strengthen multiple agricultural value chains and increase competitiveness through assistance to small holder farmers, businesses, national and local governments.

He also highlighted GIZ’s programs such as Technical and Vocational Education and Training and Market Oriented Value for Job and Growth in the ECOWAS region, that aim to inspire the required change for long-term agricultural transformation in Nigeria.

The minister of FMARD, Mahmood Abubakar was also represented by Ukata, director, Federal Department of Agriculture, FMARD. In his remarks, he emphasised the important initiatives championed by FMARD to boost food production such as support for the promotion and use of organic fertilizer, the provision of supplementary irrigation facilities to support food production, and promotion of ranching in the sector via the National Livestock Transformation Plan amongst others.

The keynote address focused on the topic Curtailing the Food Crisis: Urgent Actions for Nigeria, Leveraging Global Best Practices and was delivered virtually by Enoch Chikava, interim director, Agricultural Development, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He emphasised the need for Nigeria to accelerate action towards alleviating the immediate effects of the food insecurity on Nigerians.

He also stressed the need for more investment in technologies, business models and initiatives to scale viable solutions for long term strategies. To set the stage for the interactive sessions, a presentation on Building a sustainable and resilient food ecosystem in Nigeria – Building on the roadmap from the UN Food System Summit was delivered by Ndidi Nwuneli, Co-founder and Executive Chair of Sahel Consulting.

The presentation provided more context on the effects of crisis and shocks on the lives of average Nigerians.

The presentation was followed by a panel discussion on Food System Transformation in Action moderated by Aggie Konde, vice president, programme innovation & delivery at AGRA.

The panel featured entrepreneurs with dynamic business models across different agricultural value chains; Aminu Nyako, CEO, Sebore International Farms, Anthony Job, Group Technical Head, Value Seeds Ltd, Nkiru Okpareke, CE0, EnviroGro Farms, Winifred Okafor, CEO, Bonita Treats, Ayodeji Balogun, CEO, AFEX. And Kolade Dada of SARO Africa.

The discussion highlighted scalable evidence-based solutions as well as profitable and innovative approaches being applied toward curbing the food crisis in Nigeria. The panel was followed by a second high-level dialogue, discussing The looming food crisis – What have we learnt, what are we doing to curtail this disaster, and what more can we do?, moderated by Ifeoluwa Olorunnipa, Partnership Development Manager at Sahel Consulting.

The panellists included Mariska Lammers, First Secretary Food Security & Climate, Netherlands Embassy Abuja, Leila BenAmor Mathieu – Head, Human Development, Delegation of the European Union to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and ECOWAS and Ms. Aggie Konde, Vice President, Program Innovation & Delivery at AGRA.

The dialogue highlighted learnings from other world regions in addressing the food crisis, and shared strategies on how to ensure donor alignment and build for long term sustainability given the challenge of climate change and other shocks.

A major highlight of the conference was the interactive and insightful breakout sessions where discussions focused on success factors for developing private sector-led initiatives to drive transformation in the Nigerian agribusiness landscape, and highlighted steps for developing a clear roadmap for multi-sector collaborations to curtail the food crisis in Nigeria.

The sessions ranged from primary production to food processing, nutrition, safety and security, trade and export, distribution and logistics, livestock, equity and inclusion and scaling agribusinesses.

Overall, the sessions emphasized the urgent need to push for innovative and practical strategies to strengthen the Nigerian agribusiness landscape toward building a safe, sustainable and resilient ecosystem.

The conference ended with closing remarks delivered by Aisha Hadejia, Partnership Development Manager at Sahel Consulting who thanked the event partners, panelists and audience for their participation and urged all stakeholders to collaborate towards fostering a more resilient food system in Nigeria.

The conference can be accessed on Youtube here: Sahel Food Systems Changemakers Conference – YouTube

Adegoroye is the media contact for Sahel Consulting