IITA, varsity advocate food system transformation
Stakeholders in the agricultural sector have called for total transformation of the national food systems to prevent hunger and reduce poverty in Nigeria. According to them, it is possible to achieve zero hunger in Nigeria if the right systems were put in place.
The experts spoke during the second international conference hosted by the Faculty of Agriculture, Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu Alike, Ebonyi State, with the theme, ‘Transforming National Food Systems to Prevent Hunger,’ as part of their food security and hidden hunger lecture series.
Speaking at the event, the Deputy Director-General, International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Oyo State, Dr. Kenton Dashiell, said zero hunger would only be attained in Nigeria when farmers grow what they eat and eat what they grow.
Dashiell said series of meetings had been held by the Zero Hunger Forum championed by a former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, in Benue, Borno and Ebonyi states, noting that the interactions had led to increased results in food production and extensive agricultural produce.
He stated that Nigeria had done well in achieving some of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by providing nutritional food that reduces infant mortality among primary school pupils, bio-control products containing beneficial fungi that reduce afla-toxin concentration in groundnuts and maize by 99 per cent compared to untreated crops and increased growth opportunity for cassava products in the food sector.
According to him, Nigeria had an enormous potential for industrialisation through cassava processing, hence, the need to provide the needed tools and capacity to boost production.
He, however, pointed out some of the major bottlenecks that Nigerians were encountering in food production to include high production cost due to low yield, leading to lack of global competitiveness and lack of good road network and new technologies. “For the agricultural sector to close the yield-gap in produce they must involve new technologies and increase cassava competitiveness to fight hidden hunger in Nigeria,” he said.
The Vice Chancellor of the university, Professor Chinedum Nwajiuba, expressed satisfaction on the academic trajectory being charted by the Faculty of Agriculture of the university, stressing that the faculty had made the institution proud by being practical-oriented in the delivery of its academic brief, thereby enhancing food production.He stressed that transforming national food system demands ‘SMART’ policy-making and programme formulation, which was the reason for the annual conference on food security and hidden hunger in the university.
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