By Palma Ileye
Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Security, Sen. Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi has called for stronger collaboration among stakeholders in the livestock sub-sector to address the challenges affecting food and nutrition security in the country.
According to the Ministry’s press release, Abdullahi made this call, during the opening ceremony of the 59th Congress and Annual General Meeting of the National Veterinary Medical Association of Nigeria, NVMA, in Lagos State.
The event, with the theme, “The Changing Spectrum of the Global Economy and Need for Professions to Align with Global realities” was well considered and apt in the light of the current challenges facing the country and the globe at large.
He noted that the issues of climate change, upsurge in outbreaks of transboundary animal diseases, emerging and re-emerging zoonotic diseases, natural disasters, insecurity, unfortunate perennial farmers- Herders clashes among other factors that were persistent in the sub-Saharan Africa are affecting the livelihoods of people and posing threats to global peace and food and nutritional security.
He recalled that the prospect for economic growth was beclouded by various factors ranging from the threat of pandemic, worsening impact of climate change and slow income growth which threatens and undermine the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, such as poverty eradication, ending hunger, promoting decent work and economic growth as well as building resilience infrastructure and fostering innovation.
In his words, “all these factors informed our President, His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR decision to prioritize food security, economic growth, poverty eradication, inclusiveness and others as his main focal areas (The 8-Point) of his Renewed Hope Agenda.”
He pointed out that to align with the agenda, the Ministry had developed a robust roadmap to significantly enhance the national food security and was mobilizing too quickly, but based on consultation and participation of critical stakeholders, to reverse the current food crises situation in the country which will accelerate progress towards sustainable development.
He noted that the livestock sub-sector account for about 10% of National GDP, 25% of Agricultural GDP and provides livelihood to over 30% of the Nigerian rural population.
He maintained that the sub-sector has a high potential for growth, but the potential has not been tapped fully over the years due to preponderance of wide range of animal diseases, inadequate improvement in genetic potential of the livestock, amongst others.
The Minister added that the potential, if properly harnessed would provide adequate meat, milk and eggs for human consumption and by-products such as hides, skins, hooves, horns, tallows, etc, as industrial raw materials for other livestock.
Speaking further, he revealed that to meet the increasing gap in the availability, affordability, safety of food of animal origin and animal products, there was need to maximize the production and productivity levels of the livestock resource of the country which can be achieved through efficient and strategic animal disease prevention, control, diagnosis and treatment.
He highlighted some critical activities the Ministry had undertaken aimed at improving animal health services delivery nationwide to include: Development of national animal health policy and national strategic plans for: (i). the control of major Transboundary Animal Diseases namely: CBPP, PPR, FMD, ASF, Tick and Tick-Borne Diseases (ii). National Strategy for Aquatic Animal Disease prevention and control (iii) National Strategic plan for elimination of dog mediated human Rabies amongst others.
Abdullahi, also revealed that the Ministry was planning to hold a National Agriculture and Food Security Summit in November 2023, where Government at every level, the organized private sector and international investors and bodies will be involved.
He, therefore, charged the Veterinary professionals to take seriously the challenges of outbreaks of diseases and pests as their own contribution to our national development objectives as the forum as provided a platform for cross fertilization of ideas to take the profession to greater heights.
In his remarks, the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu represented by the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Hon. Ruth Abisola Olusanya said that the State was working tirelessly to take agriculture and food system to greater heights as the cornerstone of the economy.
He added that the State had launched a 5 year Agricultural and Food System roadmap and the idea was to showcase opportunities inherent in the state to bring in private sectors players, multinational investors as well as NGOs to work together with to boost food security.
Earlier in her address, the National President, NVMA, Dr. Adetuberu Olutoyin said the meeting was an attestation of the Association’s shared commitment adding that their roles as veterinarians was to ensure food safety and promote animal health/welfare.
She also stated that the forum would serve as a clarion call to take the profession to greater heights.
Highlights of the event was the inspection of the exhibition pavilion by the Hon. Minister, Executive Governor and other dignitaries.