World Food Day: NGO appeals for collective actions to improve food systems

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), a non-governmental organization (NGO), says it is pertinent for the country to kickstart the implementation of priority actions collectively agreed upon at the recently-concluded UN Food Systems Summit.

Mrs Yetunde Olarewaju, Communications Officer of GAIN, said this in a statement in Abuja on Saturday as the country celebrates the World Food Day, an international day celebrated every year worldwide on 16 October to commemorate the date of the founding of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Ogranization (FAO).

Olarewaju said that the Nigerian government brought multiple food system stakeholders together over a period of eight months to deliberate and reflect on the state of food systems, and the game changing idea to reduce hunger.

She said the idea is to also increase access to nutritious and safe foods, and help the country to attain the sustainable development goals, especially those relating to hunger, health and well-being of Nigerians.

Olarewaju said that GAIN took a strategic decision about five years ago to focus its energies on transforming food systems.

“GAIN delivers nutritious and safe foods in the required quantities and at affordable prices to ensure that Nigerians, especially those most vulnerable to malnutrition, have access to healthy diets.

“From the independent dialogues hosted in Nigeria, there were clear indications that from national to sub-national and even to community levels, the way our food systems work is still unknown to many.

“It shows that hunger has continued to rise in Nigeria with the most recent data classifying 44 per cent of Nigerians as moderately to severely food insecure,’’ she said.

She said the dialogues were also a reminder that over a third of the children are stunted and less than 10 per cent of Nigerians can afford a healthy diet that provides all the recommended food groups.

Olarewaju said there is the need to start looking for more ways of championing collective efforts towards strengthening the food systems and significantly reduce levels of malnutrition in the country.

The theme was “Our actions are our future – better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life”.

She said the theme came in handy, bringing home the message that more collective actions are necessary to improve the food systems.

According to her, to achieve this is to constantly remind ourselves of the priority actions we have agreed on as a country to chart the necessary course of action for our food systems.

She said the major issue were to develop the country’s priority value chains and markets for increased productivity, enhanced livelihoods and increased demand for and consumption of nutritious.

Others, she said, are safe foods delivered through markets and through social protection schemes and also linking research, innovation, extension systems in public-private partnerships for food systems sustainability.

Olarewaju said that GAIN was committing to investing a minimum of US$ 250 million over the next five years to support implementation of national food systems transformation pathways and identified priority actions in the countries.

According to her, GAIN works in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Tanzania.

She said that GAIN is a Swiss-based foundation launched at the UN in 2002 to tackle the human suffering caused by malnutrition. (NAN