The Federal Government has been told to ensure policy consistency, strengthen and streamline relevant institutions to achieve optimal Food Security policy implementation in the country.
Also, all stakeholders have been urged to intensify efforts to stamp out corruption in the agricultural sector and food security policy implementation; while government policy processes should be inclusive of women participation and empowerment especially those domiciled in the rural areas.
The calls formed part of a communique issued at the end of a one-day Policy Dialogue on Food Security in Nigeria held recently in Abuja.
The dialogue was organised by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) with support from Oxfam in Nigeria. The meeting had 37 participants comprising of representatives of members of various House Committees in the National Assembly. Committees on Women Affairs, Agriculture, Environment as well as staff Ministry of Environment, Women Affairs, National Emergency Management Agency, Women Community Centre, CSOs and participation from media representatives.
The communique was jointly signed by the Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani); Member, House Committee on Women Affairs, National Assembly, Mrs. Laz-Eke Millicent; Member, House Committee on Agriculture, National Assembly, Mrs. Onyemerekwe C.I.; Samuel Ayinde of the International Organisation for Youth Advocacy & Development (IOYAD); and Mr. Monday Osasah of the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD).
During the dialogue, a key presentation was delivered on the 'Trouble shooting the role of Civil Society Organisation as Principal Actors in the Policy Process for Food Security in Nigeria'. The dialogue was aimed at creating a platform for interaction between members of the Legislature, the Executive, Media and Civil Society to foster collaboration toward the achievement of Food availability, affordability and accessibility in Nigeria.
The dialogue also had the objective of creating needed synergy for, evaluating and interrogating the progress towards Food security in Nigeria.
At the end of the discussion, the meeting observed that corruption still remains a threat to food security in Nigeria as it is still widespread, severe and multi-dimensional and requires a holistic strategy to deal with.
The meeting noted that the issue of policy inconsistency, poor policy implementation and replication of institutions by successive regimes, is counter-productive to evolving efficient and sustainable food security in Nigeria.
"Women constitute a large proportion of the population involved in agriculture but are still greatly marginalised in the socio-economic and political configuration of agricultural policies and access to land and agricultural facilities. There is a gap in policy leading to the exclusion of youths from participating fully in development and agric and food production in particular.
"The regulatory mechanisms in the value chain of food production and distribution are weak resulting in high prices and making it unaffordable to many especially amongst the vulnerable groups. There is no policy support that encourages all year availability of food leading to glut and wastages during harvest and subsequently, scarcity and high prices. The collaboration of government and CSOs in the areas of Food Security is relatively weak", the participants also noted.
They recommended that government, CSOs and all relevant institutions should improve in awareness of nutritional at all levels to secure people against malnutrition; and that government should provide an enabling environment and incentive to encourage youth participation in agriculture.
Government was also urged to strengthen existing regulatory institutions to increase yield in food affordability and accessibility across the entire value chain, and to focus on programmes that will promote irrigation, adequate storage facility, mechanised farming, enlightenment, etc ensure steady production and availability of food production all year round
Also, CSOs were enjoined to build adequate capacity to be able to strengthen collaboration with government in the area of food security in Nigeria. Participants thanked CISLAC and Oxfam in Nigeria for providing the platform for the dialogue as it would serve to further strengthen progress towards the attainment of food security in Nigeria.