The Chief Operations Officer, Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) and Project Director, High Level Forum on SDGs, Dr Tayo Aduloju, has said there is a need for concerted efforts towards a two-circle planting season for Nigeria to achieve food sufficiency.
Addressing journalists at the Agriculture and Food Security Nexus meeting in Abuja on Tuesday, Aduloju said Nigeria operates a one-circle of planting, adding that in spite of government interventions, there is a gap.
He said that was why the players were asking the grain and wheat councils to explore what could be done to make investments going into the next round of planting.
“This is planting; what you don’t put into the ground, you cannot harvest. So the urgency is to mobilise and rally all stakeholders to make the second circle of planting a significant investment to address the tide.”
He explained that the meeting was to look at agriculture and food security and proffer accelerated solutions.
“We all know Nigeria is dealing with a high hunger rate from the COVID year. We have 25 million Nigerians with insufficient daily consumption and that has jumped to 59 million,” he said.
He also said the scale of the hunger rate had implications for chronic malnutrition among children, adding that “you can see about 38 per cent of our children have dealt with chronic malnutrition multiple times for three to five years now.
“This is impacting heavily on our ability to meet the SDGs in 2030, so urgent action is required.
“Here are experts who know the data on soil, on irrigation and land, on seed and the value chain of food crops, and the idea is how do we close this demand gap. There is a huge supply and demand gap in Nigeria across all our food crops.”
According to him, Nigeria is not producing enough to feed the people, “so there is a food sufficiency issue and the insecurity is now making it hard for us to cultivate.
“The cultivation rate is going down at a time when we need to feed ourselves. That is what makes this meeting crucial and urgent, so the situation requires a state of urgency.
He also said the outcome of the meeting would be used to brief the presidential candidates on the state of food security in Nigeria, because “if you want to be president in 2023, you should know what we are up against.”
In his opening remarks, Dr Ernest Umakhike, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, represented by Ibrahim Tanimu, Director Planning, said Nigeria recognises agriculture as a primary production base for food sufficiency, livelihood opportunities and income earnings.