By Chesa Chesa
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has informed the United Nations that global efforts towards addressing hunger and reducing diseases in developing countries like Nigeria must be all-inclusive and reflective of the needs to attain the Sustainable Development Goals.
Osinbajo stated this on Tuesday in his remark delivered virtually at a dialogue on the Nigeria Food System, organized by the United Nations to raise global awareness and shape global commitments towards mobilizing food systems to address hunger, reduce diet-related diseases and strengthen plenary health.
According to the Vice-President, “I think that some of these issues are nuanced and we really need to take a closer look especially at these dialogues so that our conversations are reflective of the issues that concern us as a nation, as a people and especially as a developing country.”
Underscoring the point about the accessibility of the dialogues, Osinbajo noted that “ensuring that these dialogues are accessible to all. Meaning that they do not become one for experts essentially talking shop”.
Emphasising the importance of having an open conversation, Osinbajo noted that “we have to take all of these issues into account especially because we are debating issues in the international community, we are contributing to a global conversation and it is so important that the nuances of our own society and situation are introduced into this conversation so that the conversation is richer and fairer and more just for our people.”
“I think we must also make it clear that this summit is about the entire value chain from farm to table and all that is in between, including retailers, food processors, technology providers and financial institutions. All of these sectors are involved in the chain and so they are relevant in this summit, and all of their views have to be brought to the table.
“All of these shows the interrelatedness and we need to demonstrate this to show the interrelatedness of each part of the chain and how the weak links affect all else, this will be an important consideration in making this dialogue as accessible and inclusive as possible,” the Vice-President added.
On the significance of the summit, Prof. Osinbajo said, it addresses some of the fundamental challenges facing the country especially with the outbreak of COVID-19.
His words: “The issue of developing a sustainable food system has never been more urgent and more existential. In our case, perhaps more so than in many other countries.
Why? We are faced with population growth that exceeds growth figures handsomely. Poverty has deepened particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout.
“Malnutrition and unhealthy dietary practices create unique threats to health and productivity for generation after generation.
So, it is a significant challenge to produce enough food for a rapidly growing population, especially given the changes required in modernization of farming practices, mechanization and reduction of postharvest losses.”
Continuing, the Vice-President said “there are also questions around ensuring environmentally sustainable production practices, creating empowering jobs and livelihoods, and building capacities to ensure sustainable and healthy food systems.
“These issues require expertise and experience but also the views of those who will literarily be at the receiving end of these plans. In other words, at this dialogues, we don’t just want to hear only the experts, we, want to hear those who are at the receiving end – those for whom all of these plans are being made.
The people across all strata of society.” Speaking further, Osinbajo explained that “the food we produce and eat, how we produce and eat, should be environmentally friendly and not destroy the environment for future generations.
“That seems simple enough. Aside from the inherent difficulties of recommending dietary changes, which is habit-forming and for most people, there are tough questions about what practices make sense in a high-income country and what will make sense in developing countries.”
While commending organizers of the summit for their efforts, the Vice President noted that the outcome of the dialogue “is of great consequence, because it affects us all and will determine the shape of the future.”
Present at the meeting were the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed; Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clement Agba; the National Convener of the summit, Mrs. Olusola Idowu; the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Mr. Edward Kallon, among others.