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Regional body calls for prioritization of food security in Nigeria, others

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Senior Policy Advisors across sub-Saharan Africa have asked governments of countries in the sub-region to prioritize food and nutrition security, affirming that it is key to economic development and prosperity of any nation.

According to them, it is not enough to only talk about food security but it must be complemented with nutrition security to ensure a robust growth of the economy.

They said: “Making agriculture more nutrition-sensitive ought to be promoted as a sustainable solution to the triple burden of malnutrition (under-nutrition, over-nutrition and micronutrient deficiency) facing African countries.

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This was contained in the Abuja declaration issued at the end of a two-day meeting for African Senior Policy Makers assembled at the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) Senior Policy seminar, yesterday.

The Executive Director, AERC, Professor Njuguna Ndung’u during a press briefing pointed out that providing bio-fortified foods to tackle the challenge of malnutrition is only a temporal measure but there is need for holistic approach in producing staple foods that are rich in nutrient content.

Commending governments across Africa for realizing the importance of increasing shares of national budgets to agriculture, health and nutrition, Ndung’u Affirmed that food and nutrition security is part of a larger nexus of development challenges and opportunities.

He mentioned that preventing malnutrition and improving nutrition requires a multi-sectoral and integrated approach to implementing nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food security policies and strategies.

He stressed the need to engage multi-stakeholders and promote their concerted actions, and also respond effectively to the challenges, noting that the Central Banks can play a critical role in furthering inclusion of households and small-scale enterprises in financial markets.

The regional body however committed to creating an enabling environment for the adoption of yield-enhancing technologies, seize market opportunities, raise incomes and enhance nutritional status and well-being; and

They also committed to undertake consultations within their Governments, both national and sub-national, to explore scope for employing demand-led approaches within public food procurement programmes, thereby promoting healthy diets, nutritional outcomes and human capital development for inclusive and sustainable growth and broader transformation.

Director of Training, AERC, Dr. Innocent Matshe also in his remark noted that several structural conditions generate obstacles increased consumption and adoption nutritional food, adding that most notably inadequate early-life nutrition, food prices, affordability and accessibility of nutritious foods through the life cycle, low income and education levels, including critical information gaps.

He identified improving early life nutrition, diet quality, food environments as well as increasing income and education as approaches towards encouraging African households to enhance their nutrition status and well-being.

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