Dr Kenton Dashiell, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, Deputy Director General for Partnerships for Delivery, has challenged governors of five pilot states currently driving the Nigerian Zero Hunger Forum, NZHF, to commit themselves t the realization of set objectives.
Dashiell’s advice came just as five state governors gave their endorsement to the peer advisory mechanism to enable them to monitor the implementation of their state-grown agricultural plans with a view to ending hunger by 2030. The states include Benue, Borno, Ebonyi, Ogun and Sokoto state.
The peer advisory mechanism is a brainchild of the Nigeria Zero Hunger Forum (NZHF) that aims at reviewing, monitoring, and advising states in Nigeria on the ways and means by which the states themselves, using available resources, can achieve zero hunger by 2030.
“More states will be involved as we make progress,” according to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Goodwill Ambassador, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is chairing the NZHF.
According to a communique issued at the end of the maiden edition of the NZHF in Makurdi, members of the NZHF which cut across the private sector, government and development partners agreed to hold its advisory meetings on a quarterly basis across the states.
Dashiell who also manages the secretariat of the NZHF at IITA explained that the peer advisory mechanism of the NZHF would encourage states to keep focus to the commitment they made towards agriculture so they could by themselves achieve their set targets.
He commended the maiden meeting in Benue state, noting that the state has the capacity to feed the country if its agricultural potential was fully tapped.
The Governor of Benue State, Dr Samuel Ortom, described the Nigeria Zero Hunger initiative as a tool that would accelerate the agricultural development of states through peer learning. He noted that through the instrumentality of the Forum the state was able to purchase fertilizers in good time for distribution to farmers.
“Again from the NZHF meeting, we have been given advice on how to handle certain areas and in some cases, the former president personally made contacts through the phone on our behalf to persons who have the answers,” Dr Ortom explained.
The meeting in Benue, had in attendance Governor Ortom, Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi; Deputy Governor of Borno State, and representatives of the Governors of Ogun and Sokoto states, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), African Development Bank (AfDB), World Food Program (WFP), the private sector, farmer groups, members of Benue State Executive Council, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), the Nigeria Army School of Military Engineering (NASME), and members of the press.
The NZHF is supported by IITA, African Development Bank (AfDB), WFP and the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL).