Experts canvass appraisal of Nigeria’s food security structure
As countries around the world gradually ease out of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts have canvassed a review of the national food security structure to address a looming food security crisis that may hit Nigeria and its agricultural sector.
This was the summation of the perspectives of panelists on agricultural security at the BusinessDay National Conversation on Mapping Nigeria’s response to COVID-19 with the theme ‘Safeguarding the Nation: Agricultural Credit and National Food Security in an Economic Downturn” which drew participants from the private and public sectors.
Head, Corporate Affairs and Communications Africa at Upfield Foods, Motola Oyebanjo, said conversations around improved food security and systems should be prioritised particularly as COVID-19 had impacted global socio-economic activities.
“Discussions around food systems during the pandemic remain critical for the private sector and public sector. It is important for the public sector because it requires a healthy and active populace to ensure that the economy runs smoothly.
“It is also important for businesses, as the society must thrive to ensure that products and services are profitable. There are great potential and possibilities for the food and agricultural sector in Nigeria during and post- COVID-19 pandemic. We must imagine a new reality, profer innovative solutions and take decisive action to ensure we harness them,” Oyebanjo said.
Insisting on the need to have sufficient food reserves in the country, Vice Chairman of Dangote Foods, Sani Dangote, stressed that food security was a reality that had shown up fully due to the pandemic.
He argued that Nigeria needed to concentrate on building strategy towards food security by looking at the particular grain or produce that could sustain the country in case of shortage or another pandemic.
Describing measures governments had adopted to strengthen the national response for food security, Managing Director of the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL Plc), Aliyu Abdulhameed, said the agency was working with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to provide guarantees for farmers and other technical support that they may require for good harvests.
Co-founder of Sahel Consulting, Ndidi Okonkwo-Nwuneli, maintained that there have been issues in the agricultural sector pre-COVID-19, adding, “However, now that those issues have been further exposed, there is a greater need for collaborations across all relevant sectors.”