From Juliana Agbo, Abuja
The Federal Government has expressed its interest to join the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Hand in-Hand initiative which aims to accelerate agricultural transformation and sustainable rural development.
The Hand-in-Hand initiative was launched last year by FAO’s Director General, Qu Dongyu, to support evidence-based, country-led and country-owned investments for eradicating poverty and ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, who made this known in Abuja said that the country is ready to join other 20 countries currently involved in the new initiative to push forward its agenda for sustainable agricultural development and rural transformation.
Nanono said the idea was timely for the country, which is also undertaking a number of other steps to ensure food security and nutrition to all Nigerians.
“Despite the plethora of challenges that have threatened food security in the country, the current administration is focused on empowering the rural people, through modern food and agricultural systems that emphasize a value chain approach to feed its people and create jobs,” he pointed out.
“There are incidents of floods in most parts of the country, where much of the food is produced, like we have in Kebbi state; we have also seen growing conflicts over land resources; yet many farmers still face challenges related to market access. All these affect farming and food production”.
While explaining that he directed that a letter expressing Nigeria’s interest to participate in the initiative be drafted immediately, he said he has also nominated a focal point from the Ministry, to liaise with the FAO team and other government experts from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in assembling required data for analysis.
Earlier, FAO Country Representative, Mr. Fred Kafeero, said FAO will bring its technical expertise in all ares of its mandate, with emphasis on innovation and digital technologies.
He explained that the initiative helps countries to develop independent investment plans to close food gaps, end malnutrition, support economic development and reduce environmental impacts with concrete evidence.
“All of which will lead to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals particularly goals number one and two on poverty eradication and ending hunger,” Mr. Kafeero stated”.
He however assured them of FAO’s commitment to support the country’s development through the Hand in Hand initiative, innovation digitalisation of agriculture and called for a quick ratification and domestication of pending international legal instruments.