By Tom Okpe
Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep Benjamin Okezie Kalu has offered clues to how Nigeria can solve its food crisis, and transform the agricultural sector into an engine of economic growth, food security, and environmental sustainability.
Delivering his address at the Implementation of Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme, (CADAP), a strategic engagement on climate change, food systems and resource mobilisation in Abuja on Monday, Kalu stated that food security can be achieved by building resilient food systems, mobilizing resources effectively, and implementing effective climate change, mitigation strategies.
The Deputy Speaker noted that Nigeria is at crossroads regarding her food security and agricultural potential, saying that though challenges abound, but with all hands on deck, the problem can be resolved.
Recalling that in July 2023, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, declared a state of emergency on food security, Kalu said this stark declaration, underscores the urgency of our situation.
He also said the Africa Union Development Agency, (AUDA-NEPAD)’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme, (CAADP) offers a roadmap to unlock the potential, adding; “the program with its focus on building resilient, food systems, resource mobilization, and climate change mitigation strategies, aligns perfectly with national aspirations.”
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He said: “Our farmers, backbone of our nation’s food production, face immense challenges. From limited access to modern tools and financing to crumbling infrastructure, their potential often remains untapped.
“Initiatives like CAADP offer a beacon of hope. By empowering these heroes with the knowledge, resources, and market connections they deserve, we can build a food system that thrives.
“We need a collective effort, a hand-in-hand between Government, businesses, and communities. Let us create an environment that welcomes private investment, one that prioritizes responsible practices and ensures, every Naira counts.
“We must explore innovative financing, tapping into new ideas like blended finance and crowdfunding to unlock the potential that lies dormant.
“Climate change casts a long shadow over our fields. It’s time to embrace smart solutions, like drought-resistant crops and water-saving techniques. Sustainable land management isn’t just a buzzword; it’s the key to ensuring our food security remains unshakeable, even in the face of a changing climate.
“Let’s not forget the harvest itself. Food storage facilities lie in disrepair, and processing infrastructure is woefully inadequate. By investing in these crucial areas, we can not only reduce the heartbreaking waste that plagues our nation but also create jobs and inject much-needed growth into our economy.
“This High-Level Strategic Engagement is a critical step towards translating these aspirations into action.
“Let us share our expertise, collaborate on solutions, and collectively work towards achieving our deserved goals,” he said.
Kalu also highlighted efforts of his office at achieving food sufficiency in the South East, through Peace In South East Project, (PISE-P).
According to him, the initiative which canvasses a non kinetic means of restoring peace in the region is also championing food security through its pillar of agriculture.
Kalu said that PISE-P recently launched ‘Food for Peace,’ where some food items were distributed to assist the people in the communities.