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Public, private investments critical in transforming Africa’s food systems – Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says transforming Africa’s food system is an obvious task requiring the active mobilization and prioritization of both public and private investments.

Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja, said the vice president virtually spoke at the preparatory meeting of the United Nations Food Systems Summit 2021.

The pre-summit is a prelude to the global event scheduled for Rome, Italy, in September; an event the vice president described as crucial just as the previous dialogues held in several countries on food systems.

He said that the Federal Government was committed to complementing existing development plans, sectorial strategies, and prioritizing investments in specific innovations and technologies to transform food systems in the country.

“The Nigerian Government is committed to addressing the drivers of food insecurity such as food inflation, changing consumption patterns and climate change, amongst other things.

“At the same time and as an outcome of 40 different food systems dialogues in which up to 5,000 people participated, Nigeria is prioritizing investments in specific innovations and technologies to scale up and transform food systems.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

“These actions complement existing development plans and sectorial strategies such as our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, the National Policy on Food and Nutrition, and the National Policy on Food Safety.

“A specific aim of our recently launched National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy is to address hunger, malnutrition and poverty as part of our target of lifting a hundred million Nigerians out of poverty within a decade.”

Osinbajo added that at the heart of Nigeria’s post-COVID-19 response was the Economic Sustainability Plan.

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He said that the plan had a major component, which is the Agriculture for Food and Jobs Programme (AFJP), where the country sought to leverage suitable technologies to build a resilient food system for Nigeria.

“Our Nutrition Policy addresses the issues of sustainable and nutrition-sensitive food systems – and the country has prioritized key nutrition actions that are impactful, cost-effective, scalable and sustainable.

“An integral part of our food systems’ transformation strategy is to create an enabling and supportive environment to implement these policies in a participatory manner involving farmers, investors and state governments.

“For example, when, as in our country and several others, population growth exceeds growth in national income, the food supply would not meet the needs of people, especially when distribution systems are inequitable.”

According to him, post-harvest losses in Africa, and particularly in Nigeria, are more than 20 per cent of production for several food groups.

He said the losses were mainly due to poor storage, poor rural infrastructure and non-automation of food processing, among others.

“The situation in many African countries is given increased urgency with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to growing levels of acute food insecurity.

“This is of great concern to all of us, especially if we recall that before the pandemic, the prevalence of severe food insecurity was as high as 22 per cent,” he said.

Earlier in her remarks, the UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, commended Nigeria’s effort, especially the vice president, for leading six ministers in the dialogues and other efforts aimed at building sustainable food systems in the country.

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“Food unites us all, as families, as communities, as cultures and as humanity, now let’s use it to unite around the urgency and the actions that are needed to transform our world by 2030,” she said.

Aside from Osinbajo and Mohammed, participants at the second day of the preparatory meeting included the Prime Minister of Italy, Mario Draghi; Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed; and ministers representing India.

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