Obasanjo kicks off programme to end hunger in Nigeria

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FORMER president  Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on Wednesday launched a report on Nigeria Zero Hunger Strategy aimed at reducing hunger in Nigeria in particular and Africa in general by the year 2030.

The programme, which was organised by the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) gathered together private sectors, civil societies and the public sector to deliberate on possible ways to end hunger in the country.

Addressing members of the committees on zero Former president Obasanjo said the destiny of millions of people in Africa will be redefined through the implementation of the Zero Hunger Strategy policy.

He further added that the policy was not aimed at changing any government existing policies but to act as framework for the implementation of policies that will end hunger in Nigeria.

His words: “we are here to begin a new journey that will redefine the destiny of hundreds of millions of people in Africa in general and Nigeria in particular. This day is significant as we put our efforts together to launch the Nigeria Zero Hunger road map that will unlock the potential of our nation and emancipate our dear country from the shackles of hunger and poverty.

“The Zero Hunger Strategic Review was not an attempt to change any government policies. As this synthesis report demonstrates, the initiative was undertaken to support and encourage government to implement policies, strategies, plans and programmes that have been formulated over many years, and to do so with a focus on achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2 by 2030,if not earlier.

Expressing his expectation for the report to be implemented in the 36 states starting from January this year, Chief Obasanjo said that the Nigeria Zero Hunger Forum will monitor the progress of the implementation in four pilot states including Benue, Ebonyi, Ogun and Sokoto states.

“I expect that the actions the action recommended in our report will be implemented in all 36 states plus Abuja starting from January 2017. The Nigeria Zero Hunger Forum will support, encourage and monitor progress in Benue, Ebonyi, Ogun and Sokoto states during 2017 and 2018.

“The governors of these states have already agreed that they will make implementing the Zero hunger road map a priority. In January 2019, eight more states will be added to our focus and by January 2021, all 36 states plus Abuja will be included.

Speaking further, the former president said the forum will ensure that the recommendations contained in the synthesis report and the individual subcommittee reports were implemented, stressing “we must do all we can so that this effort does not suffer the fate of previous endeavours.”

“The key to achieving Zero Hunger depends on implementation and our collective will. Let me reiterate that the task of attaining zero in Nigeria cannot be left to the government alone; neither can it be left to the civil society nor the private sector alone.

“There must be strong support for farmers at all levels, and for producers’ or farmers’ organisations, and government must additionally provide the right policies, regulations, incentives.

“We must address the humanitarian situation in the North-East and put into place holistic development and growth solutions that will make it difficult for insurrection to take root.

The Director General ITTA, Dr Ntaramya Sannginga, said the report is innovative and IITA would offer advance technologies for all the four pilot states.

Tony Elumelu who spoke on behalf of the sub committees said the private sector has a major role to play in the achievement of the Zero Hunger and the federal and state government should be willing to provide the enabling environment.

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