The African Union Commission (AUC) in collaboration with other international stakeholders in agriculture, on Wednesday, February 22, pledged its commitment to food security in Nigeria and other African countries.
Mr Ernest Ruzindaza, Team Leader, Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), AUC said this in Abuja at a workshop on “National Agriculture Investment Plan (NAIP)’’.
He recalled that African Union’s Heads of States and Government had on June, 2014 made a firm commitment to accelerate agricultural growth and transformation to lift the continent out of poverty through the Malabo Declaration.
The 2014 declaration was a commitment adopted by AU Heads of States and Governments to provide effective leadership for the achievement of specific goals by the year 2025.
Such goals, the African leaders said, include ending hunger, and tripling intra-African trade in agricultural goods among others.
“Specifically, they are committed to end hunger by 2025 as a continent to double agricultural productivity, reduce post-harvest losses to half, achieving agriculture-led industrialisation among others.
“You may also be aware of our Africa agenda 2063, ‘the Africa we want’ and its first aspiration that a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development,’’ he said.
Ruzindaza explained that AUC, including other stakeholders in agriculture in response to Heads of States on the continent had finalised CAADP implementation guidelines to help member states to mainstream Malabo commitment to their NAIP.
“This is to review National Agriculture and Food Security Investment Plans (NAFSIP) in each member- state and identifying priority programmes in alignment with the Malabo Declaration.
According to him, this also includes the establishment of a multi-year comprehensive expenditure plan with the Ministry of Finance of member states.
He said NAIP remained a central tool for the CAAPD implementation as it would translate the continental and country aspirations into an evidence-based plan with clear targets, budgets and mutual accountability.
Also speaking, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Chief Audu Ogbeh commended the stakeholders for their efforts in seeking a comprehensive and socio-economic development agenda for African countries.
Represented by Mr Azeez Olamuyiwa, the Director, Agric Business Processing and Marketing, FMARD, Ogbeh noted that the initiative would help member-states to grow in resources utilisation, innovative enterprise, food security and wealth creation.
“The workshop is an indication of the commitment of the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States and the Nigerian Government to the implementation of the CAADP.
“For Nigeria, the entire initiative accords with the government’s resolution of making the agriculture sector a pivot for economic stabilisation, diversification and growth in the country.’’
The minister said that successive administrations had continually recognised the strategic role of agriculture in national economic development through the agricultural policy of Nigeria that promotes private-sector-led and export-oriented initiatives in agribusiness undertakings.
“Our strength in this task of revising the country’s National Agricultural Investment Plan is the enabling objectives and strategies of the 2016 Agricultural Promotion Policy.’’
He said the focus of the present administration was geared toward an increased agricultural output in the country through re-activation, expansion and utilisation of existing dams and irrigation facilities.
Ogbeh also stated the resolve of the Federal Government to strengthening the nation’s agricultural extension services.
He assured the stakeholders that both federal and state governments’ interventions were expected to explore the country’s human and material endowments to actualise agricultural programmes in the country.
In his remarks, Dr Ahmed Shehu, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry said that the present administration had been able to put together an Agricultural Promotion Policy which interfaces with the principles of CAADP and NAIP.
Represented by Mr Tunde Bello, the Deputy Director, Information Communication Technology, FMARD, Shehu explained that CAADP provided a disciplined approach to building an agribusiness ecosystem that would stem the tide of food importation in Nigeria and other African countries.
Shehu said the ministry had harmonised CAADP’s themes of land management, water application, trade capacities, market access, food supply and technology adoption.
This, according to him, is to intensify commodity value chain concept of the 2011–2015 Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) to reposition the sector in the country.
“With the prevailing Green Alternative Agricultural Promotion Policy, there is the need to integrate the inter-related initiatives into the Nigeria’s NAIP.
“As it pertains to the emerging issues of food nutrition, climate smart agriculture and gender mainstreaming,’’ he said.