The Federal Government on Monday inaugurated the National Steering Committee for Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Hand in Hand Initiative (HiH) in Nigeria to eliminate poverty and hunger.
Speaking at the inauguration, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar said the initiative was a means to eliminate inequalities along the relevant global development goals.
The minister said the HiH was evidence-based country-owned and country-driven.
” The programme is meant to practically facilitate and support the implementation of the framework of the National Agricultural Technology and Innovation Policy (NATIP 2022-2027).
” This is towards accelerating food systems transformation, promoting rapid rural development and building vulnerable population resilience across the country,” he said.
Abubakar said the initiative takes cognizance of the country’s economic advantaged and disadvantaged areas in selecting the priority commodities for intervention in selected States.
” The initiative is well aligned with the FAO Country Programme Framework 2018-2022 for Nigeria as well as the successor framework for 2023-2027.
” The focus is to manage natural resources, reduce disaster risk, strengthen food security and enable economic diversification,” he said.
The minister said the programmme plan captured priority commodities like rice, sorghum, soybean, maize, fish, tomato, cassava and dairy.
“The selection of states for the intervention was based on their potentials for import substitution, export promotion, comparative advantage, social inclusion and demand gap (national, continental and global),” he said.
In a remark, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr Ernest Umakhihe, said the contribution FAO to the development of Agriculture in the country could not be overemphasised.
He said the inauguration came at a time the ministry was strengthening collaboration and partnership between government agencies and development partners for sustainable agri-food system in the country.
Umakhihe was represented by Mr Daniel Udo Director, Federal Department of Rural Development..
Earlier, the FAO representative in Nigeria, Fred Kafeero, said the HiH initiative was a response to acceleration of attaining SDGs, particularly zero hunger and reduction of inequality.
He said the initiative would also promote responsible investment in sustainable agriculture and rural transformation.
Kafeero says the HiH is targeted at the most vulnerable and deprived and ” leaving no one behind”.
He said the next step would be the constitution of a Technical Task Team committee at the ministry of Water Resources from December to January 2023 among other steps.
Also speaking, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq said the initiative is country-owned and country-driven.
She said the initiative is relevant and aligned with the mandate of her ministry especially in building resilience among vulnerable groups.
Farouq assured members of the committee of her ministry’ s commitment and desire to continue to provide a conducive atmosphere for the full implementation of the HiH.
Also in a remark, the minister of Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi, expressed the readiness of his ministry to fully support the HiH initiative.
” We are in sync with this initiative,” he said.
Gov. Babagana Zulumn of Borno commended the ministry of Agriculture and the FAO for coming up with the committee and the initiative.
He was represented by his Deputy, Mr Umar Kadafur.
The terms of reference for the committee are, to provide overall political leadership, strategic direction and guidance for the implementation of HiH initiative in Nigeria in line with national priorities.
It will also be responsible for providing oversight for the implementation of the HiH initiative in Nigeria.
The committee will also receive periodic progress reports on the implementation of HiH from the Technical Task Team and FAO HiH countries among others.
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