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Iyere, Utomi, Ozokwo launch food security initiative to combat hunger

FUND-YES Cooperative has launched a Food4All Initiative to eradicate hunger and ensure access to quality and affordable food at low cost. The cooperative is a…

FUND-YES Cooperative has launched a Food4All Initiative to eradicate hunger and ensure access to quality and affordable food at low cost.

The cooperative is a national grassroots movement of youth and women entrepreneurs dedicated to reducing unemployment, creating sustainable livelihoods and eradicating extreme and household poverty in Nigeria, using entrepreneurship as a viable tool.

Present at the launch in Lagos were: Prof Pat Utomi; Founder, 40 Million Ballots Movement,, Kennedy Iyere, Patience Ozokwo (Mama G), Paul Obazele, Capt Evarest Nnaji (Odegene), Dr Orji Kanu Emmanuel and Dr Emmanuel Mgbekwute as speakers.

Fund-Yes Cooperative is coordinated through a management committee co-chaired by Utomi and Ambassador Josephine Ojiambo, the Rotary International Representative to UNICEF who served as Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations and Kenyan Ambassador to the United Nations.

Iyere who serves as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) said Fund-Yes is a subsidiary of Youths Off The Street Initiative (YOTSI), a registered non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Nigeria whose mandate is to turn unemployed youths into entrepreneurs and support youths to become resilient and successful business owners.

Speaking, Utomi stressed the need for Nigeria to attain food security and said that without it, Nigeria’s efforts to build national security will remain futile.

“An army fights on its stomach and a hungry army cannot win a war. Our country is facing many wars and these include wars of economic development, wars of political growth and maturity, wars of the environment, wars of inclusion and other wars whose drive is to ensure that Nigeria becomes one healthy nation. But unless we can ensure that people are better fed, the dreams that we hold up will just be dreams that don’t get realised. Therefore, it is a very thoughtful thing that we are looking at food security because there can be no national security without food security.

“The fact is that many people are able to do what they need to do not only because they are not malnourished but that in fact many people who are not nourished become available to be used. Food always come first! Therefore, an initiative that seems to feed the people by building food security is key and important to national development and wellbeing. We do know that growth and development are predicated on a number of things, one of which, is majorly how the social sector advances, especially in the areas of education and healthcare. But can we really make these happen when the people are hungry? It is totally impossible, this is why the creation of this initiative is a necessity,” Utomi said.

While speaking, Iyere, an activist and philanthropist affirmed that Nigeria’s hunger level has risen to a dangerous point that deserves urgent reversal unless the country is ready for its worst social revolution.

He said the hunger in Nigeria is a ticking time bomb capable of exploding the country into a disastrous social revolution. He lamented that government both at federal and state levels have not shown enough concern and commitment towards addressing the hunger crisis in the country.

“In Nigeria today, there is food insecurity and acute hunger crisis. Millions of households starve and skip meals every day because they are unable to afford the high costs of food items. Within the past few months, the country’s cost of living, especially food prices have skyrocketed beyond what the ordinary Nigerians could easily afford and this is because of the current excess hike or increase in fuel prices and transportation costs engendered by the Federal Government’s removal of fuel subsidy.

” Consequently, life has become far more difficult for most Nigerians. Millions of families in Nigeria live on low income and really finding it very difficult to afford one good meal per day. Nothing else matters more than aggressive investment in agriculture and food production. Going by the country’s current harsh economic realities, it is certain that the year 2024 shall again witness additional rising cost of food items unless strategic efforts are put in place to pragmatically upscale investment in food production towards engendering food security and affordability in Nigeria. It is for this critical reason that we decided to launch this initiative.

“The goal is to be achieved by massively recruiting and engaging youths, women, families and communities in value-chain agricultural entrepreneurship aimed towards achieving sufficient food production, mass employment generation, unemployment reduction, wealth creation and household poverty eradication,” he said.

According to Iyere, this initiative will address the first and second items of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, whose focus is to eradicate extreme poverty and achieve zero hunger. It will also serve as a national vehicle for driving food security, availability and affordability in Nigeria.

The project will derive its funding through the interventions of donors, development partners, private sector investors and governments.

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