… as Nigeria loses $1.5 billion annually to micronutrient deficiencies.
MSMEsToday, the nation’s most reliable agribusiness online news platform hosted the Agribusiness, Food Security and Nutrition Summit in Lagos recently with the support of the Association of Nigerian Exporters, Association of Women in Trade and Agriculture, National Cashew Association of Nigeria, the All Farmers Association of Nigeria and the office of the Special Adviser to the Governor of Lagos State on Agriculture.The summit was themed: “Meeting the Food Security & Nutrition needs of the Nation through Sustainable Agriculture.
The objective of the summit was to discuss what concerted efforts, partnerships, collaborations, policies, were required to move the agribusiness sector forward and meet the food security needs of the nation. The summit attracted the participation of the Executive Director, Nigerian Export Promotion Council and the Director – General, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, who were represented by Samuel Oyeyipo, Regional Coordinator, NEPC and Friday Okpara, Director, Partnerships and Coordination, SMEDAN respectively.
The summit featured three session keynote presentations among which, was ‘Can Nigeria Meet the Nutrition Need of the Populace: Milestones, Challenges and Solutions.’ IfeoluwaOlorunipa, who represented Ndidi Nwuneli, CEO, Aace Foods, in her presentation, revealed that 19.4 million Nigerian across 21 states including Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are projected to be in critical phases of food and nutrition insecurity between June and August 2022. This represents 34.72% growth when compared with 14.4 million people estimated to face food insecurity which require urgent food assistance.
Continuing, she stated that presently, over 20% of the food insecure population are in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. This projection was supported by global nutrition report of 2021 and 2022 by UNICEF and World Bank which stated that 31.5% of Nigeria children under 5 years are stunted, 6.5% within the same age bracket are wasted, 28.5% children have insufficient vitamin A and by 2022, 1.3 million children under 5 are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition. Coming from women angles, the report revealed that 14-59 are anemic and the country lost $1.5 billion annually to micronutrient deficiencies.
The presentation revealed that several efforts has been made tocontinue to improve nutrition outcomes. However, value chain actors face key challenges which impact their production and subsequently the supply of food, including highly nutritious food. These challenges include high costs of feed, high costs of operation-energy and transportation, low yields due to effects of climate change, post-harvest losses. Other challenges include industry compliance levels for some food vehicle and lack of technical knowledge or economic incentive of processors whichare peculiar to processing sector.
Other challenges resulting in food and nutrition insecurity in Nigeria is rising food prices which continued to put the population at risk. Also, parts of the population have reduced access to food due to insecurity and effects of climate change. Presently, climate change limits access to land for production due to desertification, limits food and water resources particularly in the northern region and poor access to feeder roads. Similarly, insecurity renders farmlands inaccessible, leads to forced displacement, impacting access to food, basic health, nutrition and sanitation services and impacts availability and accessibility across all stages of the value chain.
Looking at the critical challenges, phase food and nutrition insecurity in Nigeria, Ifeoluwa said, ‘there is an urgent need for food systems transformation to address food and nutrition insecurity in the country’. She provided a four-pronged solution to these challenges which included:
Affordability: Provide decent livelihoods through improved access to resources, (agricultural inputs and technology, finance, capacity building and training) to support increased income levels and ensure affordability of nutritious food.
• Scale climate resilience strategies in food production
• Address infrastructural challenges that threaten food production
• Strengthen agribusinesses to build resilient businesses.
Accessibility: Ensure availability of national data on vulnerable groups, to support the existence of social protection systems.
Awareness: Influence consumer behaviours to promote dietary patterns and practices with positive impacts on nutrition and health.