Five state governors in Nigeria have endorsed a peer advisory mechanism to enable them to monitor the implementation of their state-grown agricultural plans with a view to ending hunger by 2030.
The peer advisory mechanism is a brainchild of the Nigeria Zero Hunger Forum (NZHF) that is aimed at reviewing, monitoring, and advising states in Nigeria on the ways and means by which the states themselves, using available resources, can achieve zero hunger by 2030.
The five pilot states, which have given their endorsements include Benue, Borno, Ebonyi, Ogun and Sokoto state.
“More states will be involved as we make progress,” according to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Goodwill Ambassador, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is chairing the NZHF.
According to a communique issued at the end of the maiden edition of the NZHF in Makurdi and made available to our correspondent, members of the NZHF, which cut across the private sector, government and development partners agreed to hold its advisory meetings on quarterly basis across the states.
The Forum also adopted a template for its future advisory meetings: The first day should be dedicated to a welcome address by the state followed by presentations of what is going on in the host state related to achieving zero hunger (challenges, successes, and lessons learnt).
The next day, would be dedicated to field visits to engage with large, medium, and small scale farmer groups; medium and large scale agriculture related industries such as food and feed processors, and fertilizer blending factories, and programmes to improve the health and nutrition of infants and children. The day should end with reflections of the day and a communique.
Dr. Kenton Dashiell, IITA Deputy Director-General for Partnerships for Delivery, who also manages the secretariat of the NZHF at IITA, explained that the peer advisory mechanism of the NZHF would encourage states to keep focus to the commitment they made towards agriculture so they could by themselves achieve their set targets.
He commended the maiden meeting in Benue state, noting that the state has the capacity to feed the country if its agricultural potential was fully tapped.
The Governor of Benue State, Dr. Samuel Ortom, described the Nigeria Zero Hunger initiative as a tool that would accelerate the agricultural development of states through peer learning. He noted that through the instrumentality of the Forum the state was able to purchase fertilizers in good time for distribution to farmers.
“Again from the NZHF meeting, we have been given advice on how to handle certain areas and in some cases the former president personally made contacts through the phone on our behalf to persons who have the answers,” Dr. Ortom explained.
The meeting in Benue, had in attendance Governor Ortom, Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi; Deputy Governor of Borno State, and representatives of the Governors of Ogun and Sokoto states, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), African Development Bank (AfDB), World Food Programme (WFP), the private sector, farmer groups, members of Benue State Executive Council, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), the Nigeria Army School of Military Engineering (NASME), and members of the press.
The NZHF is supported by IITA, African Development Bank (AfDB), WFP and the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL).