VP’s Address At The Consolidatory Dialogue For The UN Food Systems Summit
KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE CONSOLIDATORY DIALOGUE FOR THE UN FOOD SYSTEMS SUMMIT HELD ON TUESDAY, 29TH JUNE, 2021
It is a pleasure to join you in this final stage of the series of public dialogues exploring and analyzing the Nigerian Food System in collaboration with the United Nations. The point of these dialogues is to effectively articulate feasible pathways to sustainable, resilient, and equitable food systems for Nigeria and indeed the world as we work towards realizing the vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
You may recall that during the inception of National Dialogue I and so many others emphasized why we need to make these dialogues on food systems reflective of our situations, especially our socio-economic circumstances.
What does this mean for Nigeria? We are faced with population growth that exceeds our growth figures. Poverty especially in the wake of the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic as deepened and it is clear that economic circumstances have made a significant difference in poverty levels.
Malnutrition and unhealthy dietary practices create unique threats to health and productivity for a huge segment of our population.
A large number of Nigerian children are undernourished (stunted and/or wasted). Malnutrition and food insecurity make it harder for children to learn and gain the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the workforce. It also increases the risk of developing chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, which are expensive for families, businesses, and the Government to manage. A prolific and sustainable food system is undoubtedly critical to our Nation’s Human capital development.
So, our food system must be resilient enough to significantly impact nutrition security, and our collective efforts must reduce the malnutrition numbers. We must realize that defining bold steps to improve food systems and by extension food security, ensures that children have improved health, early development, and increased intellectual and emotional readiness to learn. This translates to positive school engagement and improves the potential of children growing into healthy adults.
On the other hand, imagine a generation of adults who suffer arrested physical and mental health, and the social and economic burden on their families, their communities, and the nation. Imagine the implications of approximately 50% of Nigeria’s population being at risk if we do not get it right.
It is now up to us, from here on to own the process and be ready to translate the recommendations of the dialogues to prompt action. This would mean embracing the changes required in modernization of farming practices, mechanization, and reduction of post-harvest losses. We must ensure that we practice environmentally sustainable production; we must empower our communities by creating jobs and livelihoods to sustain the food systems we desire.
For the government of Nigeria, our commitment to sustainable food systems is one of the key strategies for eliminating poverty across Nigeria. We know that our target of lifting a hundred million Nigerians out of poverty within a decade is only achievable if we focus on substantially improving agriculture and food systems which assure us of not just good food, but also jobs.
This perspective on addressing hunger, malnutrition and poverty runs through our policy frameworks, including our recently launched National Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy (which the President launched last week), and our Nutrition Policy that addresses the issues of sustainable and nutrition-sensitive food systems.
The Nutrition Council has also prioritized key nutrition actions that are impactful, cost-effective, scalable, and sustainable.
The call by the United Nations Secretary-General is therefore apt and timely as this provides the opportunity to holistically re-examine all the elements of the Food Systems in Nigeria. I have no doubt that the 39 dialogues held nationally and sub-nationally have been accessible to all stakeholders and able to identify those challenges that still clog our wheel of progress especially in the relevant sectors.
Let me, therefore, appreciate the Hon. Ministers of Agriculture, Health, Finance, Budget, and National Planning and the Hon. Minister of State for Budget and National Planning for their strong support and knowledgeable contributions to this process.
The convener, Mrs. Olusola Idowu, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and her team also deserve commendation for convening all the three levels of dialogues prescribed by the United Nations in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders in the Food value chain across Nigeria.
Our gratitude also to our Development Partners for their continued support to the development agenda of the Government of Nigeria particularly with their important roles in ensuring the success of the dialogues at each stage.
Today’s consolidatory dialogue is for us to carefully examine all the critical issues identified at the various dialogues, make inputs and suggestions to improve on the Report of the various dialogues that have been synthesized into three (3) and Ten (10) years implementation plans as well as agree on a roadmap for the revolutionary food system we want for our nation.
Your contributions to discussions in our various groups will greatly contribute to the richness and usefulness of this dialogue process to all.
We also have here a very important publication – THE NIGERIA FOOD SYSTEMS MAPPING REPORT TO STATE GOVERNMENTS ACROSS THE SIX GEOPOLITICAL ZONES
The Report presents the generic situation of Nigeria’s food systems across the six geopolitical zones.
It presents findings on the obstacles to making food available and accessible to people in an efficient and sustainable manner; security constraints to agriculture especially in the North East and other vulnerable areas.
The findings also include food safety issues and prevalence of malnutrition as well as state of food production in each region of Nigeria.
I hereby formally declare the Consolidatory Dialogue for the UN Food Systems Summit open.
It is also now my pleasure to officially present the Nigeria Food Systems Mapping Report to State Governments across the six geopolitical zones.