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Stakeholders Call for Private Sector Collaboration to Tackle Food Insecurity in Nigeria

In a bid to combat the growing problem of food insecurity and malnutrition in the country, stakeholders gathered at the SUN Business Network Annual Meeting in Lagos on Friday. The event, themed “Building a National Collaborative Mechanism for Nutrition in Nigeria: A Catalyst for Change,” focused on leveraging strategic partnerships to accelerate progress in making affordable and healthier food accessible.

Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, emphasised the need for intentional and deliberate efforts that align with the realities of the lower class of society. He highlighted that the Scaling Up Nutrition network is helping address the cost-of-living crisis by producing nutritious food at affordable prices through strategies like smaller packet sizes and shorter value chains.

Tomisin Odunmbaku, the National Director of the SUN Business Network, stressed the importance of concerted efforts and strategic partnerships to drive meaningful progress. He pointed to recent data from the National Bureau of Statistics, which paints a sobering picture of the nutritional landscape in Nigeria, with 133 million people classified as multidimensionally poor and over 100 million children lacking adequate intellectual stimulation. Despite investments and interventions, malnutrition indicators have unfortunately worsened over the past decade, underscoring the urgent need for collective action.

Michael Ojo, Country Director of GAIN, highlighted various factors, such as climate change and insecurity, that have negatively impacted food production in the country. He suggested exploring opportunities to consume forgotten or neglected foods, moving away from the focus on staples like rice.

In response to the high costs of foodstuffs and economic hardship, the Federal Government ruled out importing food as a strategy. Instead, it formed a committee comprising the National Security Adviser, the Director-General of the Department of State Services, and the Inspector-General of Police to clamp down on traders hoarding grains, as per the resolutions reached at an emergency meeting between President Bola Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima, and state governors at the Aso Rock Villa in Abuja on Thursday.

The stakeholders emphasised the critical role of the private sector, including the 39 million SMEs in Nigeria and the 397 SBN members, in driving collective action and fostering strategic partnerships to improve food security and nutrition in the country.

 

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