By Louis Ibah
Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo is partnering with the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to launch a new agricultural production initiative known as the Nigeria Zero Hunger Forum (NZHF). The forum targets boosting food production and ending hunger in the country by 2030.
A statement by the spokesperson for the IITA, Mr. Godwin Atser on Tuesday said the Governors of the five states of Benue, Borno, Ebonyi, Ogun and Sokoto had signed up to be part of the pilot scheme of the peer advisory mechanism of the Nigeria Zero Hunger Forum (NZHF).
“The NZHF is supported by IITA, African Development Bank (AfDB), WFP and the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) and the five pilot states which have given their endorsements include Benue, Borno, Ebonyi, Ogun and Sokoto,” the statement said.
“More states will be involved as we make progress,” according to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Goodwill Ambassador, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is chairing the NZHF.
The statement said the Nigeria Zero Hunger Forum (NZHF) is aimed at reviewing, monitoring, and advising states in Nigeria on the ways and means by which the states themselves, using available resources, can achieve zero hunger by 2030.
The statement said the maiden edition of the NZHF was held recently in Makurdi and that participants which cut across the private sector, the five state governments and development partners agreed to hold its meetings on quarterly basis across the states.
IITA Deputy Director General for Partnerships for Delivery, Dr Kenton Dashiell, who also manages the secretariat of the NZHF at IITA, explained that the peer advisory mechanism of the NZHF would encourage states to keep focus to the commitment they made towards agriculture so they could by themselves achieve their set targets.
The Governor of Benue State, Dr. Samuel Ortom, described the Nigeria Zero Hunger initiative as a tool that would accelerate the agricultural development of states through peer learning.
He noted that through the instrumentality of the Forum the state was able to purchase fertilizers in good time for distribution to farmers.
“Again from the NZHF meeting, we have been given advice on how to handle certain areas and in some cases the former president personally made contacts through the phone on our behalf to persons who have the answers,” Dr Ortom explained.