The webinar which was a side event of the fifteenth session of Conference of the Parties (COP 15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification that took place in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, from the 9th to 20th May 2022 with theme “‘Land. Life. Legacy: From Scarcity to Prosperity”.

The Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development ably represented by Engr. Daniel Udo, Director Rural Development, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development was Part of the eight (8) panelist/speaker at the webinar that included Mr. Sana Jatta, Regional Director, West and Central Africa, IFAD, Mrs Ann Romina Cavatassi, Lead Economist NRM IFAD, Hon. Clementine A. Messina, Delegate Minister of Agriculture Republic of Cameroon, Mr. Arouna Lawani, President, Network of Farmers Organization, Benin Republic, Dr. Ismaeel Fofana, Director, Capacity & Development Academiya2063, Mr. Ibrahim Bamba, Lead Regional Economist West and Central Africa, IFAD.

The virtual meeting was declared open by Mr. Sana Jatta, Regional Director West & Central Africa, who welcomed the panelists and participants that joined the meeting. He encouraged them to share their wealth of knowledge on the findings and recommendations of the IFAD 2021 Rural Development Report titled transforming food system for rural prosperity”. Mr. Sana highlighted the unsustainability of the current global food systems and emphasised the importance of its proper functioning as it is inextricably linked with efforts to eradicate hunger and poverty since the livelihood of a large share of the world’s poor people are based upon such systems and rural people cant be left behind. He remarked that the meeting is occurring at the right time as countries in West Africa and Central Africa and their partners are adapting improved reform agenda and institutional arrangement to achieve success in transforming food policy. He urged the panelist to proffer solutions to the global food crises as they exchange ideas in the webinar.

Five (5) presentation were presented at the webinar. First on the presentation was the findings of the 2021 rural development report (RDR) on transforming food systems for rural development prosperity as presented by Romina Cavatassi. Highlights of the presentation includes:

  1. Challenges of transforming food system with regards to Climate and the environment, Nutrition and Human Health, Social Welfare and Livelihood.
  2. Recommendations made emphasised the need to, enhance:
    • productivity of small scale farmers within planetary boundaries;
    • social protections to ensure people are not left behind;
    • the use of markets as a driver for inclusive and sustainable food systems; and
    • make healthier food affordable and accessible for rural people

The presentation concluded that their was need to increase agriculture production by 20-30% by 2050; small scale family are still foundation of food supply across all low and middle income countries, hence a better combination of innovation, policies and incentives are the key; while acknowledging the role the midstream plays as critical in reducing rural poverty and ensuring national food and nutrition security. Hence, investing and creating conditions for productive, economically viable and environmentally sustainable small scale family farming must be at the core of the agenda to transform food systems (Nature based solutions) 

The second presentation by Hon. Clementine A. Messina, Delegate Minister of Agriculture Republic of Cameroon, highlighted the new challenges poised by Covid -19 pandemic and current war that has exacerbated the global food system. She informed that the Cameroonian government is making efforts at improving productivity, infrastructure, water, access to market thereby upscaling the production resilient system. Also, efforts have been channeled at improving the bargaining power of producers and make their work more profitable through the implementation of food systems strategy supporting value chains; cooperatives; strengthening the initiatives of youth; IFAD’s collaboration in the country on youth entrepreneurship and climate problems in the Sahel region. She also informed that they developed an information system on pricing and insurance of agricultural products.

She informed that despite the government’s zeal to improve the food systems; the country is lacking investment in rural development especially in Capacity building, Infrastructure, technology and social protection. She then called on IFAD to make greater efforts to support the country.

The third presentation was presented by Engr. Daniel Udo, Director Rural Development, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development who delivered the greetings of the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mahmood Mohammad Abubakar who was unavoidable absent due to national assignment. In his presentation, he commended IFAD for the well-deserved report and for its various supportive efforts in find solutions for food systems transformation in West and Central Africa.

He stated that 51% of population in Nigeria are rural dwellers, 65% – 70% of these rural dwellers depends on Agriculture as their main source of livelihood and 60% – 80% of food demand in the country comes from them despite scares basic infrastructure and technologies.

He highlighted the various challenges facing the food system in Nigeria to include: Lack of basic rural infrastructure; Non-coordination between tripartite governments; Financing (Limited access to cost-effective capital, high interest rates on loans, etc.); Human capacity; Supply Security; Physical insecurity; Regulation; Tax and Inconsistent policy implementation among others.

He informed that with the knowledge of these challenges, the government had implemented successive policies to boost activities and support in the agricultural sector to uplift farmers’ livelihood and transform food systems. Such policies as the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) 2013 – 2015 and the Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP): The Green Alternative 2016 – 2020 with the former focused on: government creating enabled environment for agribusinesses; making agriculture a business destination; agriculture value addition and building rural infrastructure; while the latter had some alignment with ATA and was anchored on: Productivity enhancement; Wooing private sector investment through agribusiness investments; Institutional Realignment of Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD)

Engr. Daniel Udo informed that these efforts made it possible for the agricultural sector in Nigeria to grow by 4% in 2016 and enhanced the country’s GDP by contributing 26% to the economy (the largest achieved by a single sector that year). He informed that the feat helped Nigeria recover from recession in 2016. He further stated that there has been an increase in the non-oil exports in Nigeria courtesy of the agricultural policies/programmes put in place.

He finally thanked IFAD on its report that highlighted various food system challenges and recommendations and that Nigeria will critically look at ways of mainstreaming its policies and programmes with the findings of the 2021 IFAD Rural Development Report on transforming food systems, for rural development prosperity in Nigeria.

The fourth and fifth presentations were presented by Mr. Arouna Lawani Executive Board of West Africa network of farmers’ organizations (ROPPA)/President of Network of farmers’ Organizations of Benin, and Dr. Ismael Fofana, Director, Capacity and Deployment at AKADEMIYA2063. In their presentations, they gave resounding commendations to IFAD for organizing the virtual meeting. Mr. Arouna Lawani informed that the transformation of food system depends on availability of natural resources, commitment to food production, commitment to adoption of modern technology and respecting environment as well as making food affordable. He further highlighted factors that needs to be addressed to overcome food system challenges includes: Population growth, Income growth, Food consumption, Social and cultural dimension, Innovations & technology and infrastructure and Biophysical environmental factors such as climate change, Promotion of national and regional food transformation policies; Providing links between production and consumption; Supporting of transition in food system; Support inclusive job creation among others.

Dr. Ismael Fofana on his part highlighted the recommendations of the September 2021 UN report are important which are: to ensure multi-stakeholder and multi sectoral coordination of food systems across government; to facilitate evident based and guiding experimentation of innovation policies; need to capacitate institutions to monitor, evaluate and learn for impactful planning for implementation of profiles. Finally, he stated that it is important to align national and local efforts in food systems with global and regional agreements/commitments such as SDG, CADP among others.

The presentation was followed by a questions and answers session and participants raised issues of concern and were adequately answered by the panellist. Full highlights of the presentation can be downloaded at XXXXXXX

Mr. Ibrahima Bamba, Lead Regional Economist, West & Central Africa, IFAD gave the closing remarks, he expressed his appreciation to all the panellist for their contribution and time on ways to better the food systems which was stimulated by the 2021 IFAD report on food transformational, sustainable systems for rural Development, he hoped that this dialogue will trigger more discussions on the issues at all policy levels. he concluded that, the IFAD mandate is targeting the rural poor (vulnerable people, women, youths, physically challenged etc.), all IFAD investments are linked towards social protection mechanism by requesting the need for policy engagement at national and regional levels to expand access to formal social protection. He explained that one of the key figure in the presentation showed that only 17.8% of African people have access to social protection which is quite low.

It was recommended that since the IFAD Rural Development Report is a multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary report, it should be circulated amongst MDAs, State and Local governments, Private Sector, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Farmers’ Organizations, Research and Education Institutes, etc., to guide planning and implementation of Food Systems in Nigeria.