World Food Day: Experts call for creation of investment opportunities for rural youths

Ahead of the World Food Day celebration that comes up on Oct.16, three experts have called on governments and stakeholders to create unhindered investment opportunities for youths, especially, in the rural areas.

They are: Prof. Lateef Sanni, a Food Scientist at IITA, Ibadan, Mr Godwin Atser, also the IITA Project Manager, Cassava and Maize Value Chain (GIZ-GIAE Partnerships for Delivery), and Mr John Olateru, the Oyo State Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN).

They made the call on Friday in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan.

Prof, Lateef Sanni, the IITA Project Manager, Building an Integrated Economically Sustainable Cassava Seed Systems (BASICS 11), said that the government should enable rural development with necessary infrastructural facilities.

He added that the government should also make investment fund from Entrepreneurship Bank solely available for the youth and women.

He said that there should also be incentives to induce private-sector-led investment in the country’s manufacturing sector.

“We must integrate, collaborate and foster inclusive economic growth with food processing, marketing and export businesses,” he said.

According to Sanni, the significance of the World Food Day is to appreciate the amazing food people eat while tackling world hunger.

“We remind ourselves of the need to assure availability, affordability and accessibility of food for food and nutrition security.

“This year’s theme, “Our actions are our future- better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life,” is very apt, timely and important.

“We must grow what we eat and secure our future as well as the environment,” he said.

Also, Mr Godwin Atser, the IITA Project Manager, Cassava and Maize Value Chain (GIZ-GIAE Partnerships for Delivery), urged the government to invest in agricultural research and development to obtain its desired food security.

Atser, an agriculturist, remarked that farmers fondly plant local variety of seeds, hence, the need for the government and the private sector to support the development of sustainable seed system.

“If the government can invest in seed system alone, we will generate millions of jobs and increase cassava productivity thereby impacting the population positively and increase our GDP.

“Farmers should also use tested, trusted and improved technologies coming from researches because the future is in their hands.

“Agriculturists promote sustainable intensification whereby we can produce food on the same land area that had been cultivated before, and using good agronomic practices to increase yield.

“This will enable farmers to produce food without destroying forest resources, without undermining the ecosystem, and promoting good environmentally friendly inputs,” he said.

According to him, the World Food Day gives stakeholders the opportunity to reflect on the food situation, achievements so far recorded and charting the way forward, especially, in tackling malnutrition, poverty and hunger.

Similarly,Mr John Olateru, the Oyo State Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), said the day was being celebrated to appreciate farmers as the basic providers of foodstuffs.

Olateru said that access to zero/low interest loans, highly subsidised farm implements, herbicide, fertilizer and high yield seeds would go a long way to help farmers.

He stressed the need for a well organised commodity exchange board to handle farmers proceed off takers to eliminate middle men that specialize in price manipulations.

“Most supports being rendered to farmers don’t get to the real farmers, in most cases they are hijacked by top officials who will give them to their proxies.

“We want government to reach out to farmers through recognised farmers’ associations and institute appropriate feedback and monitoring systems,” he said.


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