“Mbelede ka eji ama Dike” Disasters help to sift out the resilient, resourceful & brave – Igbo Proverb
On Thursday, September 15th, 2022, Sahel Consulting Agriculture & Nutrition Limited in partnership with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the European Union, and with support from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), convened the first Sahel Food Systems Changemakers Conference in Abuja. The event themed Curbing the Nigerian Food Crisis: Ensuring Resilience and Sustainability in the Agribusiness Landscape attracted over 300 participants across the public, private, donor, non-profit and civil society sectors.
The Sahel Food Systems Changemakers Conference builds on from the UN Food Systems Summit to highlight critical questions around food and nutrition security in Nigeria as well as showcase opportunities to build a more resilient and equitable food system by investing in Nigerian agribusinesses. A dynamic lineup of dignitaries and speakers delivered goodwill remarks and engaged in insightful discussions on the realities of food and nutrition insecurity facing millions of Nigerians.
The welcome address was delivered by Temitope Adegoroye, the Managing Partner of Sahel Consulting who highlighted the importance of collaboration and engagement of the private sector to drive food systems transformation, build a resilient ecosystem and foster growth. He further asserted Sahel Consulting’s readiness to partner with all relevant stakeholders to ensure accelerated growth.
H.E Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, The Honorable Minister, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) delivered the first goodwill message. As an avid champion for the private sector, he encouraged investors to build strategic partnerships and invest in Nigeria’s property crops such as oil palm and cassava. He also stressed the efforts made by the Federal government in implementing the Nigerian National Quality Policy, aimed at putting in place the necessary regulatory framework and infrastructure to ensure that Nigeria’s agricultural products attain global standards.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the National Convenor of Nigeria Food Systems Summit Dialogue (FSSD) Mrs Olusola Idowu also delivered a goodwill message at the conference. In her remarks, she reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment to the implementation of all the recommendations made in the National Food Systems Transformation Pathways.
The Honorable Minister of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mahmood Abubakar was represented by Mr Ukata, Director, Federal Department of Agriculture who delivered the Minister’s remarks. He emphasized the important initiatives championed by FMARD to boost food production such as support for the promotion and use of organic fertilizer, the provision of supplementary irrigation facilities to support food production, and promotion of ranching in the sector via the National Livestock Transformation Plan amongst others.
Figure 1: L – R: Temitope Adegoroye, Managing Partner, Sahel Consulting; Ana Vinambres, Head of Program, GIZ NICOP; Dr. Valentine Ururuka, Deputy Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department, CBN, Ndidi Nwuneli, Co-founder and Executive Chair, Sahel Consulting; Aggie Konde, Vice President, Program Innovation & Delivery, AGRA, Kehinde Makinde, Country Director, AGRA; Markus Wagner, Country Director, GIZ; Mr Ukata, Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, FMARD; Beau Davis, Head of Program, GIZ-SEDIN
On behalf of the Deputy Governor, Financial Systems Stability, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Ms Aishah Ahmad, Dr Valentine Ururuka, Deputy Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department of CBN delivered the goodwill message. In his message, he highlighted some of CBN’s developmental initiatives aimed at proactively galvanizing agricultural production toward meeting the requirements of Nigeria’s growing population, such as the Bank’s flagship initiative, the Anchor Borrowers Program focused on sustaining food supply and security by providing critical support to smallholder farmers across the country.
In his goodwill message, Mr Markus Wagner, Country Director of GIZ reiterated that food security is indeed a top priority for the German government in Nigeria. He mentioned some of GIZ’s efforts in Nigeria to strengthen multiple agricultural value chains and increase competitiveness through assistance to smallholder farmers, businesses, and the government at national and local levels. He also highlighted GIZ’s programs such as Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and Market Oriented Value for Job and Growth in the ECOWAS region (MOVE), which aim to inspire the required change for long-term agricultural transformation in Nigeria.
The keynote address focused on the topic Curtailing the Food Crisis: Urgent Actions for Nigeria, Leveraging Global Best Practices and was delivered virtually by Dr Enoch Chikava, Interim Director, Agricultural Development, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He emphasized the need for Nigeria to accelerate action towards alleviating the immediate effects of food insecurity on Nigerians. He also stressed the need for more investment in technologies, business models and initiatives to scale viable solutions for long-term strategies.
To set the stage for the interactive sessions, a presentation on Building a sustainable and resilient food ecosystem in Nigeria – Building on the roadmap from the UN Food System Summit was delivered by Ndidi Nwuneli, Executive Chair of Sahel Consulting. The presentation provided more context on the effects of crisis and shocks on the lives of average Nigerians.
Figure 1: L – R: Aggie Konde Vice President, Program Innovation & Delivery, AGRA; Aminu Nyako, CEO, Sebore International Farms; Winifred Okafor, CEO, Bonita Treats; Anthony Job, Group Technical Head, Value Seeds Ltd; Nkiru Okpareke, CE0, EnviroGro Farms; Ayodeji Balogun, CEO, AFEX; Kolade Dada of SARO Africa.
The presentation was followed by a panel discussion on Food System Transformation in Action moderated by Ms Aggie Konde – Vice President, Program Innovation & Delivery at AGRA. The discussion highlighted scalable evidence-based solutions as well as profitable and innovative approaches being applied toward curbing the food crisis in Nigeria.
Figure 1: L – R: Ifeoluwa Olorunnipa, Partnership Development Manager, Sahel Consulting; Mariska Lammers, First Secretary Food Security & Climate, Netherlands Embassy Abuja; Ms Leila BenAmor Mathieu, Head, Human Development, Delegation of the European Union to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and ECOWAS; Ms Aggie Konde, Vice President, Program Innovation & Delivery at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa
The panel was followed by a second high-level dialogue, discussing The looming food crisis – What have we learnt, what are we doing to curtail this disaster, and what more can we do? moderated by Ifeoluwa Olorunnipa, Partnership Development Manager at Sahel Consulting. The dialogue highlighted learnings from other world regions in addressing the food crisis, and shared strategies on how to ensure donor alignment and build for long-term sustainability given the challenge of climate change and other shocks.
Figure 1: L – R: Fisayo Kayode, Productivity Improvement Manager, Sahel Consulting; Dr Michael Ojo, Country Director, GAIN Nigeria; Mr Kamaldeen Raji, MD, AFEX; Mrs Evelyn Obidike, NEPC; Mr Foluso Adejoro, Policy Advisor Food Security & Climate Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Abuja, Nigeria; Dr Bola Karimu, Private Sector Development Adviser, Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO); Ms Emma Odundo, GIZ; Mr Andrew Smith, GIZ; Mr Deji Adebusoye, Principal, Sahel Capital
A major highlight of the event was the interactive and insightful breakout sessions where discussions focused on success factors for developing private sector-led initiatives to drive transformation in the Nigerian agribusiness landscape, and highlighted steps for developing a clear roadmap for multi-sector collaborations to curtail the food crisis in Nigeria.
For more information on the roadmap and next steps for each breakout….click here
Breakout session on Safety and Security: Addressing insecurity in farming communities.
Sahel Consulting and the stakeholders at the conference believe that now more than ever, there is an urgency to push for innovative and practical strategies to strengthen the Nigerian agribusiness landscape toward building a safe, sustainable and resilient food system. The focus must shift to the development of business models that encourage local sourcing of raw materials, value addition in-country, and promote the consumption of made-in-Nigeria products.
The Sahel Food Systems Changemakers Conference ended with closing remarks delivered by Aisha Hadejia, the Partnerships Development Manager at Sahel Consulting who thanked the event partners, panelists and audience for their participation and urged all stakeholders to be ready to collaborate towards fostering a more resilient food system in Nigeria.
In September 2021, the United Nations Food Systems Summit was held to set the stage for global food systems transformation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. World leaders and other stakeholders in the food, nutrition, and agriculture sector renewed their commitments to improve food systems by identifying five action tracks that provide solutions to sustainably ending hunger and malnutrition. However, vulnerabilities such as poverty and unemployment, economic disruptions resulting from shocks and insecurity as well as environmental stress due to climate change continue to wreak havoc on Nigeria’s food systems.
As part of its effort to address the issues of food security and challenges facing the agriculture sector in Nigeria, Sahel Consulting Agriculture and Nutrition Limited in collaboration with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the European Union Commission in Nigeria (EU), and Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and the support of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development organized the Sahel Food Systems Changemakers Conference themed “Curbing the Nigerian Food Crisis: Ensuring Resilience and Sustainability in the Agribusiness Landscape”. The event took the discussion beyond the regular rhetoric to a solution-driven-convening.
The conference identified critical steps to address the food crisis taking lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war. It highlighted success factors for developing private sector-led initiatives to drive transformation in the Nigerian agribusiness landscape, showcased emerging solutions and innovative business models in the agri-food landscape to promote resilience in the food systems, and facilitated dialogue between stakeholders on the urgent need for private sector-led strategies as a sustainable option for a resilient food system. The conference also initiated the conversation towards developing a clear road map for multistakeholder collaboration to curtail the existential food crisis in Nigeria.