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Fed Govt. to IMF: food situation, unsustainable

Published by The Nation on Wed, 31 Mar 2021

By Nduka Chiejina (Assistant Editor), AbujaThe Federal Government has raised the alarm that the food situation in Nigeria and other African countries is unsustainable.The Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, stated this atthe ongoing virtual World Bank-IMF 2021 Spring Meetings Roundtable On Food Security In Africa.Nigeria, like other countries, the minister said, has faced critical challenges in her drive for food security. These challenges, she said, affect both the upstream and downstream agricultural sector.According to Mrs Ahmed the government believes the current food situation is unsustainable. We strongly believe that given the quantum of arable land in Africa, the time to change the global support to commercial agriculture is now.This situation, she said, requires Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows into the agriculture value chain.The Nigerian government she noted is prepared and are following up with necessary macroeconomics and fiscal reforms including governance and institutional strengthening; and prioritizing intra-Africa trade as well as structural reforms and public investments to address the challenge.At the global level, Zainab Ahmed calledfor an integrated, targeted and well-coordinated approach that will guarantee that no one goes to sleep hungry.Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, invited the international community, particularly the multilaterals and the private sector, to key in and to assist Africa to build food resilience and pursue the attainment of the sustainable development goal (SDG) No.2 and the goals of African Union (AU) Agenda 2063.Ahmed noted that a robust and secured food system is central to the health of both humans and the economies of nations.According to her, the current food situation is far from achieving the goal of feeding everyone especially with sustainable diet. COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the perennial food shortages in Africa.On food shortage across the continent, Nigerias finance minister lamented that some 230 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are still prone to chronic food insecurity, yet about one-third of food produced globally is regularly wasted.Zainab Ahmed said she was sad that even in the year 2021 we are still having conversations on food wastages and chronic food shortages in some parts of the world.The vision of the Nigerian government she told the IMF and World Bank is to work with key stakeholders to build an agribusiness economy capable of delivering sustained prosperity by meeting domestic food security goals, boosting exports, and supporting sustainable income and job growths.On agribusiness development initiatives in Nigeria, Mrs. Ahmed also noted that more initiatives abound. The growing success story on agriculture in Buharis administration has prompted more youths to take up full-time agriculture.The finance minister reiterated that more than 7 million Nigerians are actively employed in agriculture under the administrations diversification agenda and the Ministry of Agriculture is working to ensure that thesector offers 20 million jobs in the nearest future.Across Nigeria, farmers, traders and transporters are, according to theHnourableMinister, seeing a shift in their fortunes. The agricultural sector is witnessing a revolution propelled by the Presidents vision of a country that should grow what it eats. Accordingly, the administration is supporting initiatives.END
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