The focus of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) 13th regional stakeholders meeting was on resilient and sustainable agri-food systems in West Africa
which means improved productivity, nutrition, the environment, and better living, according to John Oba’s report.
According to a food security analysis issued last week by Cadre Harmonise (CH), over 19.4 million people in Nigeria may face food shortages by August 2022, despite the fact that 14.4 million people are presently enduring emergency food crises and insecurity in 21 states.
Climate change, a dwindling natural resource base, recurring natural and human-induced disasters, and increased insecurity have all been documented in West Africa and Sahelian countries.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) held its 13th multidisciplinary team meeting sub-regional office in Abuja to x-ray the impact of its programs in the West Africa region and plan the work to be done for the next biennium as part of its efforts to address these concerns in West Africa member states.
The meeting’s theme was “Joining efforts to build resilient Agrifood systems in West Africa and the Sahel,” and it was intended to discuss the current food and nutrition situation in the West Africa subregion and its determinants, as well as the needs and requirements of member states and key partner institutions, to alleviate the situation.
The discussion produced a number of ideas on how to help the region tackle food insecurity, nutrition, and resilience. The forum emphasized the importance of supporting livestock and pastoralism in order to reduce conflict, promote animal health utilizing a One Health approach, particularly PPR and other TADs, and improve feed availability and natural resource sustainability.
It also recommended that FAO continue to strengthen its efforts to consolidate partnerships with sub-regional institutions, UN agencies, and the private sector, as well as support the implementation of regional initiatives for the resilience of agri-food systems, such as initiatives to improve intra-regional cooperation.
“Increase interactions and collaborate with research, extension institutions, and producers groups in the development and adoption of novel products and technology to assist agri-food system transformation,” according to another recommendation. Present the results of government consultations on the breadth of the new strategic framework in response to national priorities and the SDGs at the FAO Regional Conference for Africa;
“Continue SFW’s assistance to nations and subregional organizations in accordance with the outcomes of the 15-country consultation, which are already reflected in SFW’s four (4) priority areas; In the context of protracted crises, promote the implementation of the Humanitarian-Peace-Development nexus approach, with an emphasis on local opportunities in terms of resources such as land, water, and human resources (particularly youth and positive narratives);
Engage youth and women at the heart of agri-food systems transformation interventions and related projects and programs; Leverage South-South cooperation to strengthen knowledge sharing, upscaling good practices, capacity building, and technical assistance; and strengthen the adequacy of the regulatory environment to increase agricultural production, improve nutrition, raise the standard of living of rural populations and contribute to economic growth in the sub-region.
According to stakeholders during the meeting, proper implementation of these recommendations will immensely improve the food and nutrition position of the region.
Dr. Abubakar Mahood, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the three-day meeting came at an opportune time because the sub-region is grappling with the devastating effects of climate change, as well as the challenges of a declining natural resource base and rising security issues threatening food supply, as well as the lingering loss of income sources among the population of agriculturally based livelihoods and small businesses from the typhoon.
He stressed the importance of finding answers to the subregion’s current food and nutrition crisis, as well as the reasons that contribute to it. I applaud FAO Nigeria’s efforts, which include a high-level consultative exercise with my Technical Directors and other relevant MDAs, to align our national agriculture and food security goals with FAO subregional priorities.
He said, “I am pleased to inform you that the current Administration is making deliberate efforts to increase investment and mainstream food and nutrition into relevant development processes, and I am pleased to inform you that these efforts have begun to show positive results in our journey to ensure national self-sufficiency in priority food commodities such as rice and other cereals.”
The Food and Nutrition sub-role sector’s in Nigeria is to contribute to the transformation of our human capital capability and catalyze our economic and social growth through better productivity, disease burden reduction, and poverty reduction,” he says. The Nigeria Development Plan 2021-2025, which focuses on building a thriving and sustainable economy, increasing agricultural output for food security, improving access to quality education, affordable health care, and productivity, enhancing social inclusion, and reducing poverty, includes a section on food and nutrition. Agricultural development is clearly linked to food security, nutrition, health, environmental sustainability, rural development, and peacebuilding in this regard.
Mr. Fred Kafeero, FAO Nigeria Director, said in his welcoming address that West Africa and the Sahel are undoubtedly confronting growing dangers that require prompt action to protect livelihoods and reform agri-food systems in order to preserve our planet.
Today, the region has a complex burden of malnutrition, with several kinds of malnutrition coexisting. One out of every three children is still stunted, with high levels of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, as well as increased rates of overweight and obesity linked to poor eating habits and lifestyle choices.
“Noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and cancer are becoming more common. Poor nutrition, which accounts for over 45 percent of deaths in children under the age of five and is progressively accounting for a large number of deaths in middle age and later life continues to drive up our health-care costs.”
Giving his remarks, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Matthia Schmale, noted that changes in food demand in the sub-region are becoming conspicuous both in total quantities needed, food preferences, and quality.
I’ve been told that the subregional food economy is the largest employer in West Africa, with predicted value addition of USD 480 billion in 2030, with the non-agricultural sector accounting for 49% of the total. These are important improvements that bode well for the West African food system in terms of increasing production, adding value, creating jobs, and ensuring food security.”
The focus of the FAO’s new strategic framework, according to Schmale, is on sustainable natural resource management, as well as social aspects that must be addressed if the system is to be fair, inclusive, and is based on the principle that the more diverse an agricultural system is, the better it can adapt to climate change and other shocks.
I believe that this meeting could not have come at a better time, given the need to align the FAO strategic frameworks with the priorities of governments in the subregion most especially West-African in order to address a number of structural policy constraints that continue to jeopardize West Africa’s ability to seize these opportunities for building resilient Agrifood Systems in the region.”
FAO has opted to focus on innovation for sustainable agricultural production, blue transformation, the “One Health” approach, equal access to resources for small farmers, and digital agriculture, according to Mr. Robert Guei, FAO’s Sub Regional Coordinator for West Africa.
FAO’s goal, he said, is to promote nutrition in all forms, particularly through promoting nutritious foods and expanding access to healthy diets.
Protect and restore terrestrial and marine ecosystems, promote their long-term use, and aid climate change adaption” (reduction, reuse, recycling, and waste management). Reduce inequalities (between urban and rural areas, affluent and poor countries, men and women) to promote inclusive economic growth.