Communiqué Issued at the Commemoration of ‘World Food’ Day Organised by the Hope for Life Initiative
Held on Monday 16th, 2017 at Nigeria Institute for International Affairs, Lagos
The programme titled “CHANGE THE FUTURE OF MIGRATION. INVEST IN FOOD SECURITY AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT” was organized in Lagos by the Hope for Life Initiative (HfLI), a civil society organization. The event, which was staged in commemoration of the World Food Day, 2017, was graced by stakeholders including food entrepreneurs, researchers, rural and urban executives, public and private sectors investment experts, advisers and rural development management authorities, members of the civil society, Lagos State Rice Farmers Association, opinion leaders and members of the press.
The objective of the forum was to assess stakeholders’ contribution towards the challenges facing food sufficiency, identify the efforts by all concerned and push for a coherent and visionary policy in order to have improvement in future endeavour to end hunger.
Messages, remarks & presentations
In her welcome address, the executive director, Hope for Life Initiative, Ms. Kendi Aig-Imoru revealed that the organization was very passionate about food and its advancement in Nigeria. Speaking on the main focus of the programme, she declared that it was to “discuss how we can build on the current momentum to make further progress…and to harvest a coherent and visionary policy particularly in the area of Food and Nutrition Security ”.
She therefore called on all stakeholders to create enabling environment that would ensure “sufficient, good, healthy and sustainable food for everyone”.
In her good will message, Dr. Mrs. Toyin Oluwole of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO), oshodi, revealed that the most challenging factor militating the nation’s food sufficiency was the rural-urban migration.
According to her, there was the need for the government at all levels to ensure conducive environment for people especially the youth to return to agriculture as farming was the mainstay of any economy. In her words, “…In the face of continued dwindling oil revenue, agriculture is key”. In order to play its role in ensuring food sufficiency in the nation, Mrs. Oluwole stated that the Institute had “developed technology for crop species as well as technology that suits women entrepreneurs who will be trained and get certificate” which would serve as part of key documents for accessing loans at the Bank of Industry. Similarly, she added that the institute had also put to together a compendium which contained all needed steps for the processing of foods and beverages that could be of immense help to agricultural entrepreneurs.
In a remark by the Head, Lagos Liaisons office of the United Nation Population Fund, UNFPA, Dr. Omolaso Omosehin observed that food insecurity was a big challenge to the growing population being experienced across the World. According to the Specialist, who was represented by Jaiyeola Abiose, noted that “805 million people worldwide live in chronic hunger while 60% of women and almost 5 million children under the age of 5 die of malnutrition…”. And back home in Nigeria, she also pointed out that “5.2million peopleface food insecurity in the North-East and 50,000 people are living in famine-like conditions”.
In her presentation of goodwill, Hajia Nene Lanval (Arch) who represented Former First Lady, Her Excellency Mrs Ajoke Murtala Mohammed, noted food shortage was bound to be because the youth who were agile, vibrant to be in agriculture were schemed out and were not encouraged to remain in the system especially at the rural areas. The result of this was the unceasing rate of rural-urban migration. According to her, “the age of an average farmer in Nigeria was 65”. Similarly, she observed that another mitigating factor against food sufficiency was the clash between farmers and herdsmen; the clash which she revealed was occasioned by the hard bite of the climate change.
Meanwhile, Professor Pat Utomi, in his remark at the event observed that for food sufficiency goals to be achieved, there was the need to increase the level of entrepreneurship in Agriculture, as, according to him, entrepreneurship was very key in Africa as far as food production was concerned.
The world re-known economist, who gave a background into his new agric innovation enterprise, ”Produce City”, in Edo State, “revealed that about 20,000 direct jobs would be created by the farmers, in a couple of years. He also mentioned that part of the farm enterprise initiative was an industrial park/export hall for export purpose to which European Union (EU) experts would have access to check export-bound produce and be certified to have met international standard before exporting.
In his final message, Prof. Utomi said the role of “real entrepreneurs is to move to change the world”, as, “agriculture is not only to make money, but also to transform lives”.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Lagos State Rice Farmers Association, and a member of the panelist for the programme, lamented that “governments don’t reach out to real farmers to give out loans except political party members”.
According to him, the Association had to resort to self help when it was obvious that government could not solve most of their problems. In his words, “We take responsibility when we realized that government can’t solve our problems…we streamline our groups and work for loans for them…”
While reacting to calls earlier made for food preservation, the chairman observed that “preservation can only be done when we’ve sufficient food production.
In his advise to the event organizers, the chairman urged that the annual plan for the programme should start earlier and shouldn’t just happen on World Food Day, but as regular as possible. He added that the planning for the programme should involved all stakeholders such as the tractor hiring units as well as the affected ministries. He urged that planners should contact relevant institutions like banks. Lastly, he added that invitations to stakeholders should begin as early as January.
Following the remarks and presentations, participants during the plenary observed as follows:
- There was a growing population, particularly women and children, who was at risk of starving to death;
- Subsistence farming could not be enough until and until there rapid increase at the commercial level;
- There was the need to increase the level of entrepreneurship in Agriculture;
Ø The most challenging factor militating the nation’s food sufficiency was the rural-urban migration;
Arising from the observations, participants recommended as follows:
There was the need for government at all levels to encourage job creation in rural areas, improve access to rural community, and accelerate the proves of achieving gender equality;
- There was the need to encourage civil societies participation because they are crucial to food production;
- Government should provide mass housing scheme as well as reviving infrastructural development to aid mass food production;
- Government should give certified and labeled seeds to farmers, provide good roads and subsidized motorcades such as tricycle to farmers for ease of mobility;
- Government should give loans to real farmers, not party men and women;
- There was the need for increased partnership with public and private investors to raise agricultural productivity, improve access to inputs, land and services, technologies and markets;
- There must be more investment in women and youth; right policies that secure rights and access to productive assets, education and health; as well as building capacity for population data collection and analysis which will aid plan for social protection and food security.