As Nigeria and other developing countries are expected to witness rapid urbanisation by 2050, experts say food security challenges will be immense. They advised the government to target its strategies at ending hunger, achieving food security and improving nutrition. But this can only be achieved when rural-urban linkages are strengthened. It was the main point during the launch of the International Food Policy Research Institute?s Global Food Policy Report in Abuja. DANIEL ESSIET writes.
As Nigeria and other developing countries are expected to witness rapid urbanisation by 2050, one major task will be to produce enough food for the teeming population, a report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has said.
The report noted that food security challenges would increase.
IFPRI, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Bioversity International, and other partners, released the report.
It examines the impact of rapid urban growth on food security and nutrition, saying that food systems would be transformed to improve the future.
The report was unveiled at the International Conference in Abuja.
In his opening remarks, IFPRI Director-General, Dr. Shenggen Fan, pointed out that increasing urbanisation is making the goals of ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture difficult to achieve. For instance, he maintained that rapid urbanisation in Nigeria affect food security challenges.
Fan added that Nigeria, China, and India were expected to have 900 million urban residents by 2050.
He said: ?Helping policy makers, city residents, and rural smallholders in the developing world understand this changing environment, and how to respond to it, is absolutely necessary to achieve the sustainable development agenda.??
He stressed that cities should provide opportunities for rural smallholders to raise their incomes by connecting to larger urban markets and more wealthy urban consumers.
?Urbanisation is driving huge changes in how small farmers connect with markets to sell their goods, global diets, and the way that food systems are governed,? Fan said.
He added: ?For urban consumers small farmers can provide an important source of diverse and nutritious foods. But the links between these areas in the developing world are often weak or broken, hindering growth and development.??
Fan stressed that rural infrastructure, including quality rural and feeder roads, electricity, and storage facilities, were essential for pro-poor growth, agricultural development, and improved livelihoods.
According to him, inadequate rural infrastructure leads to isolation of communities and is associated with poverty and poor nutrition.
On rice, Fan observed that 60 percent of rice purchased in urban areas in Nigeria is imported, despite significant efforts to boost domestic production, attributing this to a weak value chain for postharvest processing of domestic rice. He said had created inconsistencies in labelling, quality, and taste that turn off urban consumers.
He said: ?The country imports close to 60 percent of the crop, despite producing enough rice to feed its population. Urban residents cite inconsistencies in quality, labeling, and taste as their main concerns ?problems that arise from poor vertical integration in the domestic rice value chain.
?Lack of standard seeds and milling facilities infrastructure along the value chain has led to consumers? preference to consume imported rice.?
In addition, he noted that the rice sector is characterised by highly fragmented domestic value chain, and that small and medium sized rice millers with varying skills and degrees of access to information and services produce 80 percent of local rice.
Commenting on the report, Senior Research Fellow and Programme Leader, IFPRI?s Nigeria Country Strategy Programme, Dr George Mavrotas, added: ?Africapolis: Measuring Urbanisation Dynamics in West Africa (2016) recently identified 1,236 agglomerations in Nigeria, of which more than 80 percent had more than 10,000 inhabitants in 2010.
?The report also re-assessed the level of urbanisation in Nigeria at 46 percent, up from 31 percent since the previous urbanisation report on Nigeria back in 2008. This presents an enormous challenge and many opportunities for food policy in the country in the years to come.?
He maintained that strong rural-urban linkageswould help propel economic development and improvements in food security and nutrition.
In his welcome remarks, Chairman, Senate Committee on Media & Public Affairs, representing Niger North Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, congratulated IFPRI for putting together the report which emphasised the important links between food security and nutrition in an urbanising world.
Besides Fan and Mavrotas, other panelists included Senior Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Andrew Kwasari; Deputy Director, Food and Nutrition, National Committee on Food and Nutrition, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Roselyn Gabriel; Senior Program Officer for Nutrition, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Office in Nigeria, Dr. Victor Ajieroh; and Nutrition Spe...t, United Nations Children?s Fund (UNICEF), Dr. Bamidele Davis Omotola.
IFPRI is a United States-based international agricultural research established in 1975 to identify and analyse alternative national and international strategies and policies for meeting the food needs of the developing world, with particular emphasis on low-income countries and on the poorer groups in those countries.