In a bid towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the nine Priority areas of government, the Nigerian Federal Government has joined other member-nations on the Hand-in-Hand Initiative to strengthen Food and Nutrition Security, manage natural resources, reduce disaster risk as well as achieve economic diversification.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammed Mahmoud Abubakar, said during the inauguration of the National Steering Committee members of Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Hand-in-hand initiative on Monday in Abuja that it was meant to practically facilitate and support the implementation of the framework of the National Agricultural Technology and Innovation Policy (NATIP 2022-2027).
This, the Minister noted, is geared towards accelerating food systems transformation, promoting rapid rural development and building vulnerable population resilience across the country.
Abubakar pointed out that the Hand-in-hand Initiative was evidence-based, country-owned and country-driven, taking cognizance of the country’s economic advantage and disadvantaged areas in selecting the priority commodities for intervention in selected States.
He added the programme plan captured the priority commodities such as; rice, sorghum, soybean, maize, fish, tomato, cassava and dairy.
In his words: “It is well aligned with the FAO Country Programme Framework 2018-2022 for Nigeria as well as the successor framework for 2023-2027, which focus was to manage natural resources, reduce disaster risk, strengthen food security and enable economic diversification.”
The Minister said the institutional set up for the Hand-in-hand Initiative comprised the National Steering Committee and an Inter-Ministerial Task Team that are charged with the responsibility of formulating a coherent initiative architecture, workplan preparation, programme implementation and progress tracking.
Speaking further, Abubakar noted that the selection of States for the intervention was based on their potentials for import substitution, export promotion amongst others, noting that the States selected by the Technical Task Team were drawn from all Ministries and Agencies with technical support from reputable consultancy firm.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe represented by Director Rural Development, Engr. Udo Daniel stated that the event came at a time the Ministry was strengthening collaboration and partnership between government agencies and development partners for sustainable agri-food system in the country.
He noted that the contribution of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to the development of Agriculture cannot be overemphasized, pointing out that FAO had continued to initiate programmes and projects in the Ministry to ensure its sustainability for ensuring food and nutrition security in the country.
In his remarks, the FAO representative in Nigeria and to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Fred Kafeero stated that FAO priority was to support Nigeria to strengthen national food and nutrition security through enhanced nutrition, improve efficient and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystem amongst others.
He noted that the initiative was launched by the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization in 2019 as a means of eliminating poverty, hunger and inequalities along the relevant global development goals.
The Terms of Reference (tor) for the NSC members are as follows; to be the highest organ in the Governance Structure of HIH Initiative in Nigeria; to provide overall political leadership, strategic direction, and guidance for the implementation of HIH Initiative in Nigeria in line with national priorities among others.
In attendance were the Deputy Governor of Borno State, Ministers of Water Resources, Environment and Humanitarian Affairs, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Development partners among others.