The United Nations Development Program has spoken out about the challenges Nigerians may face with the availability of food in the future.
Prof. Emmanuel Oladipo
The UNDP has issued a warning that Nigeria might soon be experiencing food shortage, if urgent interventions were not put in place to enhance food production.
The Lead Consultant, UNDP project on “Targeting Interventions to Foster Sustainable and Resilient Food Security in Nigeria,” Prof. Emmanuel Oladipo, gave the warning in Abuja on Thursday during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria.
Prof. Oladipo expressed regrets that not much attention was being paid to agriculture by the three tiers of government in the country.
He said: “There’s a general concern that if care is not taken, many parts of Nigeria will suffer from severe food insecurity. To ensure that food security does not add more to the problems that we already have, the Global Environment Facility is supporting Nigeria to develop and implement food security projects.
“The support is to develop and implement projects in Nigeria to foster sustainable and resilient food security systems, which means in the area of production, marketing, processing and value-chain.
“The main aim of the project was to ensure that the country’s food production system is preserved, irrespective of unforeseen challenges. The project is sustainable, meaning it can continue; resilient, in the sense that it can absorb shocks and bounce back.
“So, even, if there are climatic shocks, the food production system will not be completely wiped out, “ UNDP official said.
Oladipo noted that the current tomato crisis in the country could have been avoided if adequate proactive measures had been taken.
“It is unfortunate that the tomato issue came up but it shows again that when the land is good to us, a time will come that it might be weak.
“We keep using the land the same way; every time, the same fertiliser is applied; we keep using a lot of bad, drainage water to wet the land for tomatoes.
“It is all these, which many people don’t see, that are reacting, creating a lot of fight back that is allowing this tomato pests now to destroy the crop. “
He called for an integrated approach in proffering solutions to the tomato crisis rather than waiting for a crisis to develop before struggling to address the problem.
“Otherwise, if we rush now and say we have pesticide for ‘tuta absoluta’ called ‘Tomato Ebola’, as that one is on, another one may come up again,” he said.
According to him, the UNDP project is to ensure that if there are shocks in the market system, the farmers will not be completely discouraged.
“We have to find a way by which we do things that will ensure that food is always readily available, accessible, affordable, and can be easily utilised very well by the people.
“In view of the fact that nearly 90 per cent of farmers in Nigeria are small holders, the emphasis is on how to help and empower them enough.
“This way, they can improve in their areas of production and processing, and ensure that as much as possible, the role of women is not completely neglected in the process.”