ICC Nigeria, Gates Foundation Tasks Government On Food Security 

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Yemisi Izuora 

The Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce Nigeria, who is also the Regional Coordinator of the global body for Sub-Saharan Africa, Babatunde Savage, has urged the Federal Government of Nigeria and other stakeholders to devise a means of feeding the nation now and in years to come; otherwise there would soon be serious food disaster in the country.

Savage made the declaration at the 20th Annual General Meeting of the ICC Nigeria/Post-AGM Lecture held at Southern Sun Hotel, Ikoyi-Lagos on Thursday.  

With an average population growth of 2.6 per cent between 2010 and 2019, the United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA) had recently disclosed that Nigeria now has a population of about 201 million. The UNFPA unveiled this estimate in its 2019 State of the World Population report. The report said that Nigeria’s population grew by about 5 million people from 2018 when the country’s population was 195.9 million. “The country has witnessed a population growth from 54.7 million in 1969 to 105.4 million in 1994 and 201.0 million in 2019”, the UNFPA stated.

Meanwhile, Savage noted that food security is very germane to our situation as a country and people because it forms a core plank upon which the economic recovery and growth plan of the incumbent administration is anchored.

Based on this, he disclosed that the choice of the theme for this year’s post-AGM Lecture of the ICC Nigeria – The Future of Food System – was not only remarkably apt and carefully chosen, but also timely.  His words: “The post-AGM Talk theme could not have been more relevant for this time and season”.

He warned that the fact that the Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme (AADS), a transformational initiative by the President Muhammadu Buhari-administration is currently delivering on its set objectives and goals is not enough for us as a nation to relax. According to him, the explosion expected in the population in the years to come; particularly if the degree of increase in food production in Nigeria does not commensurate with the trend must be envisaged and planned for now.

Corroborating the remarks made by the ICC Nigeria boss, the guest lecturer, Dr. Victor Ajieroh, Senior Programmes Officer, Nutrition Nigeria, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, asserted that food systems are very important to his organization because the Foundation believes that all lives have equal value.

According to him, every efficient food system should be able to deliver high quality diet and affordable nutrition; be inclusive, efficient and sustainable; as well as be resilient, sustainable and be able to take shocks.

Ajieroh explained that every high quality diet should be able to eliminate hunger, reduce all forms of malnutrition and promote sound health. Anything short of this, he stated, is an indication that the food system quality is nothing to write home about.

He revealed that with his experience at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, many food systems globally are yet to produce high quality diets, an instance he said requires an urgent attention by all stakeholders. His words: “Our food systems are not yet producing high quality diets, as one in every three people worldwide are currently malnourished.”

However, he acknowledged that the scenarios are not constant as the global and local food systems regularly change as a result of policy interventions from governments and businesses.

Ajieroh stated that the required interventions in the food systems should not be treated as an exclusive responsibility of each government; rather he said all stakeholders should see it as an inclusive responsibility. He specifically charged businesses to consider themselves as part of the problem the society is facing with regards to food supply as well as part of the solution to tackle the menace.

Meanwhile, Savage also bemoaned the poor transportation infrastructure in Nigeria, as he stated that the efforts being made by the current administration has not yielded the desired result. He complained that over 50% of the federal and state roads across the country are still in poor conditions. He stated: “This scenario does not depict any level of seriousness expected if we must, as a country, achieve the earmarked goals of the Transformation Agenda.”

Concerning security of life and property, he commended the efforts of the Federal Government, particularly the Police and other security agencies towards reducing crime rates in the country. However, Savage said ICC Nigeria has observed that the country has continued to witness insecurity in diverse forms. He said: “The business environment has remained hostile due to illegal touting activities by hoodlums, armed robbery, kidnapping activities, vandalisation of major oil and gas pipelines in the Niger Delta; Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, and banditry in the North West. We cannot continue this way, we need to ensure that peace prevails and become the order of the day to usher in economic prosperity in Nigeria.”      

The AGM of the ICC Nigeria was part of the activities used to mark the regional programmes for the 100th anniversary of the ICC worldwide and the 20th anniversary of the re-organization of ICC Nigeria.

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