• Wed. Apr 24th, 2024

Collaborative Efforts, Legislative Vision Drive Nigeria’s Food System Transformation

In a groundbreaking two-day retreat organized by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Nigeria’s food security challenges took center stage. Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), CISLAC’s Executive Director, set the tone, emphasizing the urgent need to address food insecurity and malnutrition affecting millions in Nigeria.

Rafsanjani emphasized the significance of the legislative retreat in addressing the challenges plaguing Nigeria’s food system. Highlighting the interconnected and crucial focus areas, Rafsanjani pointed out the alarming levels of food insecurity and malnutrition affecting millions of Nigerians, particularly children and vulnerable populations. The retreat provided a platform for robust policy discussions and decisive actions to combat these issues.

Rafsanjani stressed the importance of enriching staples with essential vitamins and minerals to combat micronutrient deficiencies, emphasizing the need for a region-specific approach tailored to the unique characteristics of each region in Nigeria. He also underscored the vital link between a well-nourished workforce and economic growth, urging strategies to ensure access to nutritious food for working individuals and families.

Providing stark statistics from the Global Hunger Index, Rafsanjani outlined the urgent need for a resilient and sustainable food system to address the projected increase in acute hunger in 2024. He highlighted the complexities and challenges within Nigeria’s diverse agro-ecological zones, emphasizing the need for climate-smart adaptation strategies and sustainable agricultural practices.

Rafsanjani called upon members of the legislature to play a pivotal role in addressing these challenges through oversight, appropriation powers, and support for initiatives such as local premix production facilities. He urged the allocation of adequate resources to regulatory agencies for effective enforcement and monitoring of compliance to fortification standards, along with expanding mandatory fortification to additional nutrients and staples based on current needs and national health priorities.

Dr. Michael Ojo, representing the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), shared his insights at the National Assembly Retreat on Food Fortification, Workforce Nutrition, and Food Systems Transformation in Nigeria.

Dr. Ojo highlighted the global imperative to transform food systems for better food security, nutrition, health, and environmental sustainability. He emphasized the critical need for coordinated policy actions and stakeholder collaboration to address Nigeria’s unique challenges, including infrastructure and capacity deficits, misalignment with development goals, and a lack of technological innovation.

Acknowledging the complexities of food systems, Dr. Ojo expressed the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition’s pleasure in collaborating with CISLAC and the Nigerian Economic Summit Group through The Third-Party Advocacy Campaign. The goal is to provide insight and chart a roadmap for working with the National Assembly to improve nutrition outcomes through the transformation of Nigeria’s food systems.

Dr. Ojo stressed that Nigeria’s poor diets contribute significantly to early death, morbidity, and economic inequalities. He highlighted the importance of increasing the accessibility, affordability, and desirability of nutrient-dense foods in the country. Engaging with a variety of stakeholders is necessary, and representation plays a fundamental role in this transformative endeavor.

Representative Regina Akume, Chairman of the House Committee on Food and Drug Administration and Control, delivered a speech at the two-day retreat on Food Fortification, Workforce Nutrition, and Food Systems Transformation held at the Marriott Hotel in Ikeja, Lagos, on February 15th and 16th, 2024.

Expressing her appreciation to CISLAC for organizing the retreat, Akume emphasized the theme, “Using Evidence to Inspire Action,” and its immense significance in promoting food security for Nigeria’s workforce. As the Chairman of the House Committee on Food and Drug Administration and Control and a representative from the Benue State food basket, Akume underscored the need for nutritional fortification actions to improve overall health and economic well-being.

Akume highlighted the importance of a robust legislative framework and policy on nutritional fortification to provide legal backing for advocacy, ensuring institutionalized and systemic compliance within the concepts of Food Fortification, Workforce Nutrition, and Sustainable Food Systems in the Nigerian food industry.

Commending the collaborative efforts of various stakeholders in organizing and participating in the retreat, Akume emphasized the necessity of knowledge sharing and capacity building for sustainable food system transformation in Nigeria. She urged participants to engage in meaningful discussions, share expertise, and explore innovative solutions to overcome challenges related to malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies.

The retreat emphasized the interconnected areas of food fortification, workforce nutrition, and sustainable food systems. Speakers called for region-specific approaches, legislative backing for nutritional fortification, and collaboration across government, industries, civil societies, and academia.

Participants committed to shaping concrete policy recommendations and actionable steps to drive sustainable food system transformation, echoing a shared vision for a brighter and healthier Nigeria. The outcomes of this collaborative effort aim to contribute significantly to improved food security and nutrition outcomes across the nation.

Hyacinth Beluchukwu Nwafor

Hyacinth Beluchukwu Nwafor is a seasoned journalist and the CEO/Founder Belch Digital Communications, publishers of Hybrid News Nigeria.

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