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Conference Tackles FG on Food Security

Conference Tackles FG on Food Security

A NATIONAL Conference on the Politics of Hunger has taken on the Federal Government on the problem of food security confronting the country, saying there is a deep lack of vision and collapse of government in the area of small holder farming as the future of Nigeria.

AkanimoReports says the conference which was attended by representatives of community-based, agro-research, youth, scholars, and civil society groups in Abuja, reolved that good, responsible and committed leadership is one of the strategic tools that Nigeria and the rest of African countries must have and deploy in order to free their capacity to feed themselves from the constraints that presently obstruct and threaten to strangulate them.

The conference according to AkanimoReports was organised by Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Environment, with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and other international organizations.

Besides the Nigerian groups, participants were also drawn from outside of Africa especially Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa and Norway. Flowing from very robust, participatory and fruitful deliberations, the conference made the following observations:

• That hunger is not only the absence of food but more critically the lack of access to food.

• That although the language of hunger is universal, what is not really universal is the question of why people are hungry especially in Africa which has become the poster continent for hunger and poverty whereas she was a net food exporter in the 1960s.

• That hunger and poverty are like scourge ravaging Nigeria and other African countries. Millions of Nigerians and Africans go to bed hungry every day, while many die on daily basis out of hunger. • That although Nigeria and other African countries have the great potentials to feed their people and be self sufficient in food production, the agricultural sector has continued to suffer neglect in the hands of successive governments.

• That capitalism and neo-colonialism have been identified as part of the structural causes of poverty and hunger in Africa. • That oil extractive activities, by causing serious damages to the environment through pollution which destroys soil fertility, also contribute immensely to hunger.

• That rather than proffer genuine and sustainable solutions to the scourge of poverty and hunger, our leaders have chosen to play politics with the hunger that has continued to ravage the continent- politics that lead to mindless waste of our collective resources and the destruction of the small scale farming system. They use hunger as a political tool to manipulate people and societies.

• That through good, responsible and committed leadership, Africa can become self sufficient in food production rather than looking beggarly up to the neo-colonialists for Genetically Modified food aids. • That local farmers, through land grabbing agenda, are dispossessed of land for small scale farming. This has greatly impacted negatively on food production for local consumption and has become a big threat to food security.

• That if land grabbing is not controlled, it will not only make it impossible for the future generation to get access to land, the loss of species and diversity through mono cropping but will also lead to deeper conflicts as a result of land scarcity. • That if urgent steps are not taken to encourage or motivate young persons to go into farming, Nigeria may face serious food crisis in the coming decades.

• That the Nigerian Biosafety bill pending before the National Assembly should be fully open for public scrutiny and inputs. • That production of GMO foods is not only a threat to biosafety, it also posses great danger to biodiversity which is at the base of sustainability of life.

>From the foregoing, participants resolved and recommends as follows: • That there should be a massive awareness campaigns at the grassroots to educate the local people on the dangers of ceding their land to anybody for cultivation of Agro-fuels because of its negative consequences and this can be achieved through the creation and membership of the NIGERIA FOOD SOVEREIGNTY COALITION – a movement of Nigerian citizens to ensure that Nigeria and Africa will sustainably guarantee her Food sovereignty.

• That the Governments and NGOs should establish strict systems of monitoring and blocking the entry of GMO foods as they threaten our biodiversity and pose other dangers to our environment and our health. • That the Nigerian Government and her agencies should begin to exercise its power to regulate the oil and other extractive industry activities to ensure an end to environment degradation. Gas flaring, which is part of the crimes of the oil industry against the environment and the Nigerian people must be stopped without further delay.

• That Nigeria and other African countries should go back to the era of agriculture and give massive support to small scale farmers as one of the critical ways to ensure food security and elimination of hunger in the country and continent.

• That Nigerian and African youths should be encouraged and given all necessary support to see farming as an attractive and viable venture, rather than a sector for frustrated old persons.

• That every land taken away from local people for the purpose of agro-fuels should be returned to the people and anybody involved in that criminal act of land grabbing should be prosecuted.

• That government policies should provide support to small scale farmers and also support ecological agriculture not dependent on toxic chemicals, technology and such other inputs.

• That Nigerian and African leaders should stop playing politics with the problem of hunger ravaging the society but should rather muster the political will to combat the problem.

• That Nigerians should create mass movements at various levels to join hands and embark on mass mobilisations aimed at reclaiming or rescuing the society from bad rulers. It is only through mobilisation for change that the society can be saved from impending food crisis and end the decimation of the population by hunger.

This position was however, endorsed by the Executive Director of ERA, Nnimmo Bassey, and representatives of over 200 groups including small-scale farmers.

ENDS

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