By Ginika Okoye
Abuja- Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has called on the Federal and state governments to ensure prompt distribution of farm inputs to farmers to end hunger in the country.
Obasanjo said this at the launch of the Nigeria Zero Hunger Roadmap in Abuja on Wednesday.
He said the distribution, especially in preparation for the 2017 planting season, would boost food production, improve nutrition content in food and reduce recession currently facing the country.
Obasanjo, also the Chairman of the Zero Hunger Review Committee, said the hunger initiative was to support and encourage government to implement policies and plans toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goal number two by 2030.
He urged the 36 states with Abuja to implement the recommendations of the report starting from Jan. 2017.
He noted that the report would be implemented first in four states of Benue, Sokoto, Ebonyi and Ogun as pilot, while eight more states would be added to the programme by 2019, and all the states of the federation followed subsequently by 2021.
“Zero hunger in Nigeria cannot be left to the governments alone; neither can it be left to the civil society nor the private sector alone because it will cost trillions of naira.
“There must be strong support for farmers at all levels and for producers or farmers organisations and government must provide the right policies and regulations.
“We must give agribusiness a new image and make farmers the king which they are as sustainers of lives and foundation of economic activities,’’ he said.
Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, suggested the collaboration of various stakeholders to ensure the implementation of the report.
He expressed the commitment of the National Assembly to ensure adequate legislations and framework to back the implementation of the report.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, regretted that no fewer than 11 million children were stunted and 2.5 million children in the country also suffered from severe malnutrition.
Adewole said the document would further accelerate the need to tackle hunger in the country.
Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi State, represented by his deputy, Dr Kelechi Igwe, said that state governments would do everything within its power to support the initiative financially to achieve zero hunger.
Mr Stanlake Samkange, the Director, Programme and Policy Division of the World Food Programme, said the report which was the first of its kind in West Africa, would guide the country into eradicating hunger.
Dr Nteranya Sanginga, the Director General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), said the institute would offer advanced technology to the states in order to achieve the zero hunger goal.
“We will build capacity of youths and young people in the area of agriculture in the four states,’’.
Mr Tony Elumelu, a representative of the Organised Private Sector, said the sector would adequately support the initiative financially to become a reality.
He called on the government to create enabling environment to enable the private sector function in the programme.
The Nigeria Zero Hunger Committee was set up in April 2016 to enable the country achieve the SDG Goal 2, aimed at ending hunger, achieving food security, improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture.
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