Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen has tasked the government at all levels to budget adequately for agriculture and food security interventions.
This, she said, would help reduce malnutrition and enhance livelihoods and income generation.
Also, the Action Against Hunger and Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), has urged the government at all levels to prioritize the food and nutrition needs of the poorest and most vulnerable households in Nigeria by expanding and improving emergency food assistance and social protection programmes.
The minister, who spoke against the backdrop of severe effects of malnutrition on Nigerians especially children under the age of five, insisted that it was time to give top priority to the budgetary allocations to agriculture and food security in the country.
Tallen spoke during a press conference organised by Action Against Hunger to mark the 2020 World Food Day celebration on Friday in Abuja.
According to her, given the increased health challenges, abuse, hunger, and starvation occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an urgent need for cooperation and solidarity among countries of the world, to build a more resident and robust food system.
Tallen,who spoke through her representative and Director, Child Development of the Ministry, Jummai Mohammed, maintained that nutrition must be part of ongoing COVID-19 prevention strategies to build the resilience of individuals and communities.
The minister noted that noting that nutrition was necessary to build immunity, protect against illness and infection, and support recovery.
“We must note that food & nutrition security must be safeguarded, as nutrition cannot wait. This calls for continuous nutrition interventions as short-term disruptions of such programs could have irreversible negative effects on child survival, health, and development of women and children in the long run.
“There should be food security towards nutrition and improved overall well-being; There should be deliberate effort to ensure that the Government at all levels budget adequately for agriculture and all food security interventions. This will help reduce malnutrition and enhance livelihoods and income generation,” she said.
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary, Civil Society- Scaling-Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), Beatrice Eluaka, said food systems were still out of balance, despite the significant progress recorded in improving agricultural productivity and ensuring nutrition security.
According to her, some of the issues underlining the imbalance include malnutrition, hunger, obesity, environmental degradation, loss of agro-biological diversity, food loss/waste, and a lack of security for food chain workers.
She charged relevant authorities to support farmers and workers throughout the food system, to further boost their efforts in ensuring delivery of affordable and sustainable healthy diets for all, and decent livelihoods for food system workers
“CS-SUNN urges government at all levels to prioritize the food and nutrition needs of the poorest and most vulnerable households in Nigeria by expanding and improving emergency food assistance and social protection programmes.
“Prioritize nutrition in Nigeria by improving budgetary allocations, releasing and cash backing those allocations while ensuring transparency and accountability in the use of funds directed at addressing malnutrition.”
On his part, Chairman, Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Sen. Abu Kyari, said a lot still needs to be done in fighting hunger in the country, especially in the North East where the insurgency has caused massive loss of lives, properties, and means of livelihood, further worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This exasperated the already deplored situation of my people. I stand here today, to not only to commemorate the world food day but to let the world know that policies and practices that support and demonstrate practical strategies to ameliorate the conditions of the vulnerable population is key to development, food security, healthy and nutritive life.”