13 million Nigerians suffer from hunger- Agriculture Minister

Akinwunmi Adesina

The FG wants to use bio-fortified crops to tackle the hunger.

The Nigerian Government has announced plans to expand the use of bio-fortified crops, such as pro-vitamin `A’ cassava and orange-flesh sweet potato to address the hunger situation being faced by some 13 million people.

Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Akinwunmi Adesina, gave the indication on Monday in Addis Ababa at the High Level Meeting of AU Heads of State and Government on “unified approach to end hunger in Africa by 2025”.

The African Union, FAO and the Lula Institute jointly convened the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) framework.

Mr. Adesina said “much progress is being made, we are mindful that we still have challenges of malnutrition and micro-nutrient deficiencies to tackle.

“Nigeria still has 13 million people suffering from hunger, and malnutrition is still high”.

The minister said that Nigeria had made good progress in the target set to produce an additional 3.2 million metric tonnes of rice paddy to attain self-sufficiency in rice by 2015.

“We have already unleashed a rice revolution in Nigeria and produced 1.8 million metric tonnes of rice paddy within two years.

“This is 55 per cent of the target set for 2015 as in the dry season of 2012 to 2013; we produced a record 1.1 million metric tonnes of rice.

“This created 460,000 jobs, especially for the youth. Farmers net incomes increased by an estimated $200 million, creating wealth for farmers and their communities.”

According to him, Nigeria has ended the approach of taking agriculture as a development programme, saying “we treat agriculture as a business.

“We should not manage poverty with agriculture; we should create wealth through agriculture,” Adesina said.

He said in the past year Nigeria had leveraged $8 billion in private sector investment commitments.

“In the past six months, we have received letters of private investment commitments worth $3.3 billion.

The minister said Development Partners were supporting the Federal Government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda with more than $2 billion dollars in financial commitments from the World Bank, African Development Bank, DFID, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, IFAD, UNDP and USAID.

“In Nigeria, as long as any Nigerian goes to bed without food, our job is not complete.

“We will not relent until we end hunger in Nigeria. For the ‘democracy of the stomach` is the right of every Nigerian,” he said.

The minister said social transfer programmes, such as school feeding and conditional income transfers would be expanded.

He said the Federal Government’s save one million lives initiative programme would tackle child malnutrition through community-based management of acute malnutrition and integrated young child feeding programme.

“In 2012, over 400,000 severely malnourished under-five children were treated. We are also promoting exclusive breast feeding for infants through the age of six months.

“Nigeria welcomes the new Partnership for a Unified Approach to End Hunger,” he said.

The minister noted that the experience of Brazil, under the leadership of former President Lula, clearly showed that where there is a will, there is a way. He said Nigeria welcomes the idea of the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund and is currently considering her possible role and contribution to the fund.

He said government had embarked on reforms on fertiliser and seed policies to accelerate the access of millions of farmers to improved technologies.

“To better target our farmers and eliminate corruption in these sub-sectors, we developed an electronic wallet system of providing farm inputs to farmers using electronic vouchers on mobile phones.

“Nigeria is the first country in Africa to develop such a system. In 2012, we reached 1.5 million small scale farmers with the electronic wallet system. This improved food security for an additional 7.5 million persons within the farm households.”

He said Nigeria launched a national database for farmers, where 4.2 million farmers were registered last year, while 10 million farmers had so far been registered in 2013.

“We plan to provide 10 million farmers with seeds and fertilisers and assure food security for 50 million persons by 2015,” he said.

The meeting is being attended by some 15 AU Heads of States and Government as well as international experts on food security, non-state actors, civil society organisations, and women groups in the agriculture sector.

(NAN)


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