Celebrates World Food Day
The Federal Government has intensified efforts towards the introduction of a home grown National School Feeding programme targeted at the valuable segments of the population.
The programme would enhance and sensitization school enrolment, address poverty, malnutrition and stunted growth, stated the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Arc. Sonny Echono.
Arc. Echono, while addressing the media at a Press Briefing on Friday, 16th October, 2015, to commemorate the 35th World Food Day Celebration in Abuja, stated the need to create business opportunities in the rural areas and stimulate the growth of micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), He emphasized the need to improve the incomes of farmers, saying, “All players in the agricultural sector must re-double efforts by taking advantage provided for massive food production.”
The Permanent Secretary said social protection exist when government develop policies and programmes to address economic, environmental and social vulnerabilities to food insecurity and poverty. According to him, the objective of celebrating World Food Day was to promote effective action to end hunger, malnutrition and poverty.
Arc. Echono stated that in 2012, the Federal Government approved vital incentives and subsides to address the challenges affecting farmers which necessitated the need for a Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GES) and equally introduced Dry Season Farming which significantly increased yield and translated into enhanced income to our farmers.
The Permanent Secretary assured Nigerians that current agricultural policies would grow the agricultural sector since agriculture is now treated as viable and profitable business enterprises. According to him, the focus on agricultural growth and national food security with the private sector taking the lead in a value chain approach in areas where Nigeria has comparatives advantage is a step in the right direction.
In his opinion, focusing on youth and women in agriculture and developing strategic partnership to stimulate investments in a market led agricultural system, would unlock our potentials, creates wealth and lift Nigeria out of poverty.
The Permanent Secretary explained that government on-going efforts are geared towards ensuring national self-sufficiency in staple foods, resuscitating the Cotton and Textile sector, minimizing post-harvest losses, re-introduction of an effective and efficient extension services delivery system. He emphasized the need to develop the fisheries and livestock sector and the importance of linking farmers to markets and promotion of exports through value addition, standardization and efficient regulatory controls.
He said government is also promoting climate smart agriculture with the use of flood resistant and early maturing seed varieties by adopting and using organic nutrients like fertiliser, provision and use of irrigation facilities and mechanization.
In the message of the Director General, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, Jose Graziano da Silva, delivered by the FAO Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Louise Setshwalo, he said study after study has shown that social protection programmes successfully reduce hunger and poverty, saying in 2013 alone, such measures lifted about 150 million people out of extreme poverty.
He said from available evidence, social protection increase both on-farm and non-farm activities by strengthening livelihoods and lifting incomes. According to him, to break the age-old bonds of rural poverty once and for all, the world needs to act with more urgency and more decisively.
The FAO Director General was however of the opinion that the key elements of transforming the vision into reality should be through political commitment, adequate funding, partnerships and complimentary actions in health and education.
Tony Ohaeri – Director Information
October 16, 2015