Nigeria mulls ‘Operation Feed Yourself’ to counter malnutrition – Osinbajo

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo Yemi Osinbajo says Nigeria is considering an `Operation Feed Yourself’ initiative to tackle malnutrition.

The vice president said the initiative, which will be a collaboration between the Federal Government and states, is under the aegis of the National Economic Council (NEC) and the National Council on Nutrition (NCN).

Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja, said the vice president spoke at a virtual High-Level Meeting on Nutrition.

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The vice president said the initiative would encourage the establishment of urban farms and small home gardens as part of efforts to address malnutrition and related challenges in the country.

The meeting was attended by UN Deputy Secretary-General, Mrs Amina Mohammed, state governors, representatives of development partners including UNICEF, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Others were the Aliko Dangote Foundation, and convener of the UN Food System Dialogue, Mrs Olusola Idowu, who is also the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

The `Operation Feed Yourself’ initiative is one of three major plans arising from the UN-backed Food Systems Dialogues to advance the fight against malnutrition.

“There are practical steps that can be taken by the States and Federal Government in the next 12 months.

“I think that some of the suggestions are important, especially those that have come from the UN Food System Dialogue.

“The stages are the establishment of Agribusiness Investment Hubs or farm settlements; the establishment of urban farms and homestead gardens by individuals and schools.

“The adoption of weather information to support farming; leveraging the support of the UN agencies and other partners for nutrition activities, and the call on MDAs and states to release funding for nutrition activities.

“States and the Federal Government will promote what the convener has described as ‘Operation Feed Yourself’; this obviously not only helps individuals and families but the excess can be sold to others and generally improve food security.

“The establishment of Agribusiness Investment Hubs or farm settlements or farm estates or any variety of those kinds of integrated farming arrangements will improve food and nutrition security.

“ What we are recommending is the sort of model that Oyo State has or any of the variety that states have; that sort is obviously recommended because of the way that it is structured and the obviously good result that they have been getting.”

He said that the funding of nutrition and related activities by MDAs and states had been made a point of importance even at NEC meetings.

Osinbajo said that states were being urged to budget adequately for nutrition.

The vice president said that MDAs and states should adopt the national priority list and make budgetary provisions for those who had not concluded their 2022 annual budgets.

` I think there is still time to make adequate budgetary provision for nutrition in the 2022 budgets.

“It is also clear that we can leverage on the support of the UN agencies and other partners like the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the World Bank as well as our development partners, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Aliko Dangote Foundation.

“The Aliko Dangote Foundation was able to show what they have been doing especially with de-risking facilities that could be used by farmers in the various localities all over the country,” he said.

Mohammed on her part, acknowledged the leadership of Nigeria to the UN agenda 2030 and the Africa Union agenda 2063.

The UN Deputy Secretary-General said that the solution to many of the challenges associated with malnutrition lied in Nigeria’s recent commitment through the Food Systems Summit process.

“I will like to pay tribute to the leadership of the vice president and to the efforts of Idowu, as the national convener of the virtual engagement at the pre-summit and clear, focused, ambitious national pathways that were published ahead of the Food Systems Summit in September,’’ she said.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, said that despite dwindling financial resources, the states would continue to push on the frontier of improvement in nutritional issues.

Moreso, the Chairman of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido, urged relevant authorities to leverage technology to address the challenge of shortage of rainfall to boost farming activities in parts of the country.

Oyo State Government, which already has an integrated farming model, and the Director-General, Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMet) also made presentations at the meeting. (NAN)

 

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