In observance of the 2023 World Food Day, Nigeria, along with other nations, has acknowledged the pressing issue of food production in the country.
The federal government has emphasized that this challenge is mainly attributed to factors such as rapid population growth and climate change.
According to projections by the United Nations, Nigeria’s population is expected to double, reaching a staggering 377 million by 2050.
Kyari Abubakar, the minister of Agriculture and Food Security, addressed the media in Abuja on Monday, highlighting the significant hurdles posed by droughts, variability in rainfall patterns, and desertification. These factors not only exacerbate the strain on the planet’s water resources but also present a formidable obstacle to ensuring food security in the nation.
“Water resources are declining due to climate change, urbanization, and rapid population growth. Such an increasing threat to regular water supply has adversely affected not only food production but also agricultural livelihoods, with developing countries in particular bearing a disproportionate burden.
“There must be an urgent synergy between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Water Resources to ensure adequate irrigation of farmlands and to guarantee that food is produced all year round.
“The theme for this year’s World Food Day is ‘Water is life, water is food. Leave no one behind. This slogan highlights the core objective of the annual event and brings to mind the need to heighten public awareness and action to improve our food systems and alleviate hunger,” he said.
According to Abubakar’s statement, the ministry has formed a partnership with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources to effectively utilize various water resources in agricultural regions. This includes utilizing River Basins, Dams near cultivable lands, and other wetlands for multiple cropping cycles.
Abubakar further revealed that this collaboration will be implemented during the 2023/2024 dry season farming, with a focus on priority crops like wheat, rice, maize, and cassava. Moreover, there is a sustainable plan in place to expand and replicate this approach for other crops, livestock, and fisheries across the entire country.
“I would like to emphasize once again our commitment to collaborate with all individuals and organizations who genuinely wish to support the sector and the Nigerian nation in implementing long-term solutions to address the challenges that affect our national food and nutrition security.
According to the director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), QU Dongyu, it is crucial for governments to develop policies rooted in science and evidence to effectively manage the existing water resources.
He emphasized the importance of fostering water governance as it not only enhances business reputation and profitability but also mitigates future operational risks associated with water scarcity, floods, and pollution.
“Water, energy, and food are inextricably linked, and for policies to be successful, they must manage competing interests without compromising the health of our ecosystems.
“Our farmers need to become agents of water management and be equipped with the right tools to perform that function sustainably. Farmers, forest-dependent people, livestock producers, and those working in the blue economy of fisheries and aquaculture already manage water daily,” he said.