23rd Annual LAPO Development Forum - COMMUNIQUE
A communique issued at the end of the 23rd Annual LAPO Development Forum held on Tuesday, October 18th, 2016 at the Musa Yar’Adua Int’l Conference Centre, Abuja.
Theme: “Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture in Nigeria: Challenges and Opportunities”
The 23rd edition of the Annual Development Forum organized by Lift Above Poverty Organisation (LAPO) was held on Tuesday, October 18, 2016 at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua International Conference Centre, Central Area, Abuja with the theme: “Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture in Nigeria: Challenges and Opportunities”.
The Forum was chaired by His Excellency, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, a former head of state and President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who also doubled as the keynote speaker.
The Forum, which drew participants from members of the civil society, governmental and non-governmental organisations, the private sector, policy makers, farmers, the academia and other critical stakeholders in the agricultural sector, provided a veritable platform to discuss, exchange ideas and proffer practical solutions to the problems of food insecurity and agriculture in Nigeria.
Following exhaustive discussion of the Keynote Lecture by Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and papers presented by Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, the Director-General, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Prof. Valentine Aletor, former Vice-Chancellor, Elizade University, the Forum came up with a 10-point communiqué as follows:
- The Forum commended the commitment of LAPO to poverty alleviation, especially in the area of agricultural development and food security enhancement through the provision of over N20.7 billion as loans to rural farmers in Nigeria since its inception.
- The forum observed that sustainable agriculture and rural development are critical for global food security and poverty alleviation and therefore commended the current agricultural development initiatives by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration aimed at revamping agriculture and diversifying the economy.
- The forum identified policy inconsistency; poor policy implementation and virulent corruption as the bane of agricultural development in Nigeria, adding that government must stamp out corruption, ensure consistency in agricultural policies to achieve sustainable agriculture and optimal food security.
- The Forum observed that food importation, under-development of the agricultural sector, widespread unemployment and lack of raw materials for the manufacturing sector are some of the problems bedeviling the Nigeria economy. It therefore called for a strong synergy between the government and the private sector towards addressing these challenges.
- The forum urged financial and governmental institutions to emulate LAPO in the provision of credit at affordable rate, farm inputs and appropriate technology to boost food production in the country.
- The Forum advocated for the establishment of an autonomous and active National Research Foundation and empower it to fund competitive, market-oriented collaborative research. It stated that the disconnect between research institutions and agricultural production should be bridged, thus paving the way for agricultural development in Nigeria.
- The forum noted that although women constitute a large proportion of the population involved in agriculture, they are still greatly marginalized in the socio-economic and political configuration of agricultural policies, access to land and agricultural facilities. It noted that government policies and programmes on agriculture must be inclusive of women participation and empowerment, especially for those domiciled in the rural areas.
- It enjoined youths to channel their energies into farming rather than seeking white collar jobs, insisting that government must create an enabling environment and necessary incentives to encourage youth participation in agriculture.
- The forum recommended that youths should be trained in agribusiness and provided with start-up capital for a decent and gainful employment, noting that agriculture should be treated as a business.
- It stated that a platform should be created to enable farmers market their agricultural products at the international market.
Prof Christiana E.E. Okojie
Chairperson, Board of Directors, LAPO
Mgr, Advocacy & Communication