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The Essence Of World Food Day Celebration, By Dr Joel Oruche

Food has overtime been man’s basic need apart from water, shelter and clothing. These according to Maslow are basic for the sustenance of human life. All levels of effort in agriculture is geared towards providing food for man.

Food is something that provides nutrients. Nutrients are substances that provide energy for activity, growth and all function of the body such as breathe, digesting food, etc.

 Food is necessary to maintain our bodies both physically and mentally for good working order. We need food for protection of immune system, improve brain performance, protect eyes and heart.  Indeed, food is life.

The importance of food to man therefore cannot be overemphasized.

It is in this spirit that on October 16 every year, The World Food Day is celebrated not only to mark the anniversary of the founding of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in 1945 but also to promote global awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger.  Indeed, the primary focus of the World Food Day celebration is to tackle global hunger and to strive to eradicate hunger across the world.

 It is remarkable that other organizations concerned with food security such as the World Food Programme and International Fund for Agriculture Development equally celebrate the day.  The celebration though centers on celebrating the quality food we eat as humans it is above all, to create awareness about a great number of people who struggle to have a meal a day.

The theme of this year’s celebration is “Leave no One Behind, better production, better nutrition and better environment and a better life”

.   According to experts, the global challenge today is how to provide a healthy diet and sufficient food which affects all segments and classes of people, the rich and the poor with its attendant health issues, such as obesity, diabetes, besides, a lot more people are under hunger and starvation with children being victims of malnutrition, death and abnormal growth. And to highlight the need to ensure healthy diet for all.

This year’s theme  is important as it calls attention to the fact that ending hunger is not only about supply, as enough food is produced today to feed everyone on the planet, the problem is access and availability of nutritious food which is increasingly impeded by Covid 19 pandemic, conflict, climate change, inequality, rising prices and international tensions.

As more than 80% of the extreme poor are rural dwellers who rely on agriculture and natural resources for their living, they are usually the hardest hit by natural and man-made disasters.  Moreover, this segment of the society often face marginalization based on gender, ethnic origins or status.  They are in continuous struggle to gain access to basic necessities of life, training, finance, innovation and technologies.

In the face of this global challenge, there is the need for a global effort aimed at better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life.

 In line with this global effort and due to the importance attached to food in particular, and indeed agriculture in general, the present Administration has left no one in doubt about its commitment to achieve self-sufficiency in food production including livestock and fisheries. Government effort is geared towards ensuring every Nigerian citizen irrespective of status, has enough balanced food to eat.  Thus, the emphasis is that Nigerians should produce what they eat and eat what they produce.

To achieve its goal of self-sufficiency in food production requires determined efforts and the fullest cooperation of all Nigerians, it is through this joint efforts that we as a people can reverse the declining trend in agriculture production and achieve self-sufficiency in the major food crops to what they were prior to the advent of Oil and substantially increase livestock production, dairy products and fisheries.

Interestingly, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is leading in this crusade with policies and programmes that are geared towards sufficiency in food production. Such programmes like distribution of agricultural inputs and equipment, manpower training for agricultural extension workers, advocacy for local production of fertilizers to boost food production and

improved commodity value chain for smallholder farmers, mechanization, Climate Agriculture, Mainstreaming Gender into climate change:  Mitigation and adaptation strategies for People with Disabilities to address Climate change and its impact, Distribution of food items to vulnerable groups among others.     

In keeping with the theme of this year’s celebration and in the firm belief that a sustainable world is where everyone counts, governments at all levels, the private sector, academia, civil society groups and individuals must work together in solidarity to prioritize the right of all people to food, nutrition, peace and equality.  Indeed, all hands must be on deck for us to work towards an inclusive and sustainable future with expression of greater sympathy and milk of kindness in our actions for a better society for all devoid of hunger, malnutrition and starvation.

Dr Joel Oruche is Director, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Abuja

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