The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) says Nigeria has expressed its interest to join the “Hand-in-Hand” initiative designed to accelerate agricultural transformation and sustainable rural development.
Mr David Tsokar, FAO National Communication Officer, made this known on Monday in a statement in Abuja.
The statement said that Nigeria was ready to join other 20 countries currently involved in the new initiative.
“There are incidents of floods in most parts of the country where much of the food is produced, like we have in Kebbi State; we have also seen growing conflicts over land resources;
“Yet many farmers still face challenges related to market access and these affect farming and food production,’’ it said.
The statement said that the “Hand-in-Hand” initiative was launched in 2019 by FAO’s Director General, Qu Dongyu, to support evidence-based, country-led and country-owned investments for eradicating poverty and ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition.
“The initiative will help countries to develop independent investment plans to close food gaps, end malnutrition, support economic development and reduce environmental impacts with concrete evidence.
“All of which will lead to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goals One and Two on poverty eradication and ending hunger.”
The statement said that through the initiative, FAO would bring its technical expertise in all areas of its mandate, with emphasis on innovation and digital technologies.
It said that FAO pledged its commitment to supporting Nigeria’s development through the initiative, innovation digitalisation of agriculture and called for a quick ratification and domestication of pending international legal instruments.
The statement said that the Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, described the initiative as good and timely because it would facilitate the Federal Government’s efforts to ensure food security and good nutrition in the country.
“Despite the plethora of challenges that have threatened food security in the country, the current administration is focused on empowering the rural people through modern food and agricultural systems that emphasise a value chain approach to feed its people and create jobs,” Nanono was quoted as saying.
The statement said that the minister directed that a letter expressing Nigeria’s interest to participate in the initiative should be drafted immediately.
He also nominated a focal point officer at the Ministry to liaise with the FAO team and other government experts from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in assembling the required data for analysis.