The 6TH Edition of the Feed Nigeria Summit 2021, with the theme “POST-COVID19: A Repaired Food System, Pathway to a Revived Economy”, Kicked off today, at Ladi Kwali Conference Centre, Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja. The Hon. Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono said that there is need to reposition the agricultural sector as the key economic growth vehicle, stating that the Summit would build Nigeria’s Agribusiness ecosystem efficiently and sustainably.

According to the Minister, ‘’ the theme of this year’s summit, “POST-COVID19: A Repaired Food System, Pathway to a Revived Economy” could not be more pivotal to the national discourse on how to create a sustainable growth trajectory, using Agriculture as the leverage to revive and stabilize the economy’’.

Nanono pointed out that the summit offered the stakeholders, an opportunity to review the new agricultural Policy of the Ministry; the National Agricultural Transformation and Innovation Plan (NATIP) and to discuss the implementation vehicles for the processes.

He stressed that ‘’the Federal Government has continued to implement new strategies to aid the development of the agricultural sector and strengthen the value chain. The focus of the National Agricultural Transformation and Innovation Plan (NATIP) is to aid a new strategy that strengthens the agricultural financial system, reducing food imports and helping to refocus attention on agriculture as a key driver of the Nigerian economy’’.

The Minister informed that ‘’the current administration, under the leadership of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, is keen on creating an enabling environment for the private sector to lead the recovery of the agricultural sector. At the Ministry, we remain gallant in our support of strategic private sector incursions that will provide the much-needed infrastructure, systems, control processes, and oversight to ensure a nuanced commercial development of Nigeria’s agricultural market’’.

He further said ‘’ emphasis will be placed on tracking the implementation status of the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZ) as well as the Green Imperative Programme of the Government. By their Terms of Reference (ToR), these two programs will address the existing concerns around critical infrastructural provision, technological innovation, mechanization and extension, as core components of the FMARD’s policy thrust’’.

The Minster announced that the Mechanization policy would kick off by first quarter of next year, 2022 and it will cover 632 Local Government Areas,   ‘’private sector driven services centers, with equipped tractors, farming implements, storage and IT facilities’’.

He charged the stakeholders including farmers, investors, financial institutions, Governments and Local communities continue to collaborate effectively in ensuring the full implementation of the policy.

In his remarks, the Minister of State for Agriculture Rural Development, Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri represented by Mrs.  Karima Babangida, Director, Federal Department of Agriculture in the Ministry, stated that ‘’ for a sustainable Food System, we must rise to overcome the challenge of poor quality food supplies, hunger, malnutrition and improper food habit of promoting food wastage. Indeed the food consumption pattern must change to reduce food waste’’.

 He added that ‘’ this is the acceptable consumption behavior globally that an average Nigerian especially in the Urban area pays little or no attention.  If we devote so much to produce, we should pay more attention to avoid waste because of its economic and environmental impact negatively. Again, the private sector is called upon to champion the campaign against food wastage and support initiative to reduce food loss.

 Shehuri assured that ‘’ the Ministry will continue to ensure that Agriculture moves rapidly towards modern technologies so that it exerts significant influence on the Nigeria Food System’’.

 In his Goodwill message, the Chairman, House Committee on Agricultural Institutes and Collages, Hon. Munir Babba Danagundi , stated that Nigeria is still recovering from the COVID 19 Pandemic adding that, Poor infrastructures, Gender, Climate change among other factors have brought about a decrease in food production.

Danagundi advised the Stakeholders to ensure the accessibility and availability of Food to the average Nigerian. According to him, ‘’there should be deliberate effort to encourage the production of conventional and unconventional protein in animals and partnership between the private sector, research institutes and investors both home and abroad.”

Other Stakeholders who spoke at the Summit including representatives from AfDB, IFAD and Agribusiness Enabling Environment, called for support of critical infrastructural provision and technological innovation to drive the policy thrust of the ministry geared towards achieving food and nutrition security, create jobs for the teeming Nigeria youths and boost the economy.