• Backs UN’s call for dialogues in North East
Dialogue has been described as a tool for improving the safety of life and food security in Nigeria, especially in the northeast zone.
A professor of agriculture at the Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Demo Kalla, at the weekend, supported the United Nations (UN’s) call for dialogues.
Speaking with journalists after the regional food system summit in Gombe, Prof. Kalla, who was one of the facilitators, explained why exploratory dialogues were considered important to improving food security, livelihoods, and ultimately national security. The summit involved Adamawa, Taraba, and Gombe states.
Kalla said: “We must evolve home-grown solutions in every sector, but principally agriculture because, without food security, there can never be secure. If handled well, we will come out stronger out of the fragile conditions,” he expressed.
According to him, the call by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres: “Is calling for collective action to raise global awareness and shape global commitment that can transform food systems to resolve hunger, reduce diet-related diseases and restore the planetary health.”
He justified the UN bottom-up approach where the grassroots are heavily consulted in government agricultural policy formulation.
He said: “Dialogues are important for the widespread engagement of all people as stakeholders in the food system.
“It provides platforms for the different stakeholders to express their views sincerely without fear or intimidation and proffer possible solutions to challenges that face food systems,” he pointed.
As a facilitator, he expressed optimism that the level of organisation and involvement of different critical stakeholder groups in the region at the summit “will help in shaping the road map to sustainable food systems.
“I would not at this stage go into specifics, but I am confident that the dialogues were robust and cross-cutting,” he hoped.
Kalla described the Federal Government’s move to diversify the economy through agriculture as a welcome development.
He, however, cautioned: “But it must be professionally guided not by sentiments and other considerations. Innovative thinking must guide our policies and programmes.”
He also embraced the call for the controversial ranching with caution, saying, “ranching must be guided professionally, and let me say Nigeria doesn’t lack the expertise to forge innovative solutions to curb the current regrettable, avoidable herders/farmers clashes.
“We have, for too long, neglected the sector. We need to retrace our steps and act appropriately by allowing professionals to drive the sector.
“Let me, however, point out that our priorities should not be limited to only ranching, but value addition in crop and animal agriculture, fisheries, and agroforestry.
“Value addition is the goldmine yet untapped. Imagine the huge incomes we could derive from dairy, beef, and leather. The poultry sector has shown an encouraging growth over the years; that can be strengthened.”
He regretted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s agro-allied sectors, saying: “Pandemic and the lockdown experienced last year affected both production and distribution, but we had to wake up to the realities that we can no longer depend on food imports.”