Nigeria has to act fast to develop a sustainable food system, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo warns.
Osinbajo said the country faces a population growth that is “handsomely” ahead of its economic growth figures.
Osinbajo said the need to create a food system that works “has never been more urgent and more existential” as the country’s poverty levels has worsened particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout.
The vice president made these remarks during the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), organised by the Nigerian government in collaboration with the United Nations, which was held virtually with over 700 participants in attendance.
The dialogue was organised with the hope of identifying food systems challenges from multiple perspectives, thereby highlighting priority actions for Nigeria’s food systems and providing pathways towards ensuring resilient and sustainable food systems in Nigeria by 2030.
“Malnutrition and unhealthy dietary practices create unique threats to health and productivity for generation after generation,” Osinbajo said.
Osinbajo described the dialogue as a crucial dialogue that should be all encompassing in order for Nigerians, policy makers and key stakeholders to benefit maximally.
He said the dialogue will help to raise global awareness and shape global commitments towards mobilising food systems, so as to address hunger, reduce diet related diseases and strengthen primary health systems across boards.
Osinbajo explained that it is a significant challenge to produce enough food for a rapidly growing population, especially given the changes required in modernisation of farming practices, mechanisation, and reduction of post-harvest losses.
“But there are also questions around ensuring environmentally sustainable production practices, creating empowering jobs and livelihoods, and building capacities to ensure sustainable and healthy food systems,” he said.
These issues, he said, require expertise and experience, and also, the views of those who will literally be at the receiving end of these plans.
“In other words, at these dialogues, we don’t just want to hear the experts, we want to hear those at the receiving end, for whom all these plans are being made – the people of the country across all strata of society,” he said.
Osinbajo urged that the food we produce and eat, how we produce and eat, should be environmentally friendly and not destroy the environment for future generations.
He said “That seems simple enough. Aside from the inherent difficulties of recommending dietary changes, which is habit-forming and for most people, there are tough questions about what practices make sense in a high-income country and what will make sense in a developing country.”