The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation, FAO has honoured Nigeria and 37 other nations for reducing the number of people living in absolute hunger in their countries by half well ahead of international targets for the year 2015.
Nigeria was presented with diplomas for meeting the MDG-1 target by the FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva during a high-level ceremony attended by several heads of state. The ceremony took place during the week-long meeting of FAO’s highest governing body, the Conference in Rome.
In his remark, the FAO Director-General stated: “To each and every one of you, I want to say that you are living proof that when societies decide to put an end to hunger, and when there is political commitment from governments, we can transform that will into concrete action and results.”
“FAO is proud to work with all our member nations, developed and developing, to reach our common vision of a hunger-free and sustainable world,” he added.
The Director-General pointed out that there were 928 days until the 2015 MDG deadline, but he urged countries to go beyond that and aim for the complete elimination of hunger.
“We are the first generation that can end hunger, which has plagued humanity since the birth of civilization. Let’s seize this opportunity,” he said.
Other countries that also received diplomas for meeting the MDG-1 target include: Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chile, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Honduras, Indonesia, Jordan, Malawi, Maldives, Niger, Nigeria, Panama, Togo and Uruguay. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cuba, Djibouti, Georgia, Ghana, Guyana, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Nicaragua, Peru, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Venezuela and Viet Nam.
In a statement, signed by Dr. Christopher Otabor, Special Assistant, Admin to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs, Dr Precious Gbeneol, stated that the progress recorded by Nigeria in reducing hunger was a reflection of success of efforts of President Goodluck Jonathan’s transformation team at improving the number of Nigerians living in absolute poverty and ensuring that hunger is further reduced before the 2015 deadline.
The Presidential aide added that OSSAP-MDGs had intervened directly to enhance food security in the country through initiatives such as Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme under the Conditional Grants Scheme.
“We recognize that a key aspect in improving performance in the MDG 1 indicators is improving food security and we have practically demonstrated our commitment towards addressing the plight of the vulnerable segment of our population in this area by initiating programmes to tackle hunger, while investment on pro-poor programmes through the Conditional Grants Scheme and the Special Projects Units are also been scaled up,” Dr Gbeneol stated.
“The CCT programme which was scaled up as part of the 2012 DRGs budget, adopts a multi-faceted approach in its engagement with issues of hunger and poverty reduction and engages 56,000 low-income households across 24 states of the federation. The exit strategy of the programme is the provision of the sum of N100, 000 as to participants as principal capital for startup an agricultural enterprise. The condition for the release of this sum is the completion of 3-month training in an agro-business. Households are supported to invest in poultry, fishery, backyard vegetable production, amongst other areas.”
The statement further stated that OSSAP-MDGs has in her bid to improve food security increased support to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development: “In 2011, the sum of N541 million was provided for agricultural investment targeted at improving food security. In 2012, the sum of N5.1 billion was allocated while in 2013, the sum of N4.73 billion was appropriated in the Federal Budget to foster food security. The increased allocation in 2012 and 2013 was done to support Government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda.”
It was also stated in the statement that OSSAP-MDGs has in the past years supported the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in three principal areas which include training of youth and women in agricultural practices, funding of extension services, and construction of rural feeder roads. With the support, Federal Ministry of Agriculture has been able to train 5,000 youths in ten different value chains and provide start-up packages for 6,000 youths including access to credit and other inputs through the Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES); training of 2,500 women in poultry, bull fattening, sheep and goat production, bee keeping, crop value chains and extension. Also, loans were provided to trainees to purchase starter packs, access GES and other necessary inputs; re-invigorate Extension Support Services through the training of 22,500 farmers, procurement of 5,000 portable pesticide sprayers, amongst other activities; construction of surface dressed roads to staple crop-processing zones, and the rehabilitation of rural feeder roads in crop production clusters.
“Through the 2013 DRGs Budget, OSSAP-MDGs is supporting the Federal Ministry of Youth Development to train youths to start agricultural enterprises. These enterprises span the areas of aquaculture, livestock rearing, fabrication, repair and maintenance of agro-equipment and crop value chains. In addition to this training, startup capital is being provided with access to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture’s GES, to increase fertilizer provision, amongst other avenues of input support.”
“Under the 2013 DRGs-CGS line item of the Federal Budget, an agricultural component has been included in the Local Government track. This component will engage agricultural cooperatives in 250 LGAs across the country, as part of the third round of the CGS to Local Governments. The intervention is structured to address the parts of the respective targeted value chains in the different regions that demonstrate the greatest marginal return in both output of produce and monetary value. The execution of this intervention will likely be through an on-going credit scheme within this area. The aim of this new area of intervention is to create capacity at the local government level to maximize the productive capacity of local cooperatives, to augment the interventions made by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development,” it was added in the statement.