The United Nations office in Nigeria has projected that food economy in West Africa and Sahel sub-region would hit $480 billion in 2030 with non-agricultural sector accounting for 49 per cent of the value added.
Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the United Nations in Nigeria, Matthias Schmale, stated this in Abuja yesterday at the 13th Multidisciplinary Team Meeting.
The event had as its theme: “Joining efforts to build resilient agrifood systems in West Africa and Sahel”.
Schmale, who attributed the expected growth to systemic approach undertaken by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of UN’s efforts in securing the development gains in the fight against hunger, tasked West African countries to seize the opportunities for building resilient agri-food systems in the region. These significant trends, he said, provide great prospects for the West African food system to increase production, value addition, job creation, and food security.
According to him, it is a big concern that over the years, countries in West Africa and the Sahel have witnessed the negative impacts of climate change, a declining natural resource base, recurrent natural and human-induced disasters, and rising insecurity.
“All of these have adversely impacted agri-food systems, causing the agricultural production and yields in the sub-region to be the lowest in the world. COVID-19 significantly worsened the food security situation of many households in the region, especially poorer households,” Schmale said.
He stressed the need to align the FAO’s strategic framework with the priorities to address structural policy constraints.
FAO Representative in Nigeria and to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Fred Kafeero, noted that the three-day meeting was aimed at deliberating on the food and nutrition situation in the West Africa subregion, its determinants, and mitigation measures.
He said the meeting offers an opportunity to enhance collaboration, joint planning, and mutual accountability in driving actions towards a resilient Agri-food Systems in West Africa and Sahel.
Kafeero said the FAO is emphasising the area of data and analytics for generation of evidence to guide investments and partnerships for food systems transformation.
“We are glad our partners from ECOWAS are joining us to advance food security and nutrition in West Africa and to contribute to knowledge sharing regarding challenges, threats, and opportunities to move agri-food systems in the region towards sustainability,” he added.