THE ROLE OF YOUTH IN TRANSFORMING FOOD SYSTEMS IN NIGERIA

4 Minute read

Food is much bigger than what is on your plate

UN Deputy Secretary-General

This year’s International Youth Day theme highlights the importance and need for youth participation in achieving safe and sustainable food system. The main goal of Transforming Food System seeks at balancing health and economic policies, promoting healthy diets and nutrition, strengthening social protection policies and inclusion, integrating natural resource protection into food sector policies, and enhancing the contribution of the private sector.

Our Now: The Impact From Failing Income and Food System

Before the onset of the Corona Virus pandemic, food systems especially in developing countries already face serious challenges. COVID-19 has put the world further behind in achieving transformed food systems and reaching the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially for a country like Nigeria which before then has been below poverty line. The aftermath of the COVID- 19 is evident in the high cost of food, food scarcity and insecurity. The loss of jobs, constant laying off of workers by employees leading to loss of decent means of livelihood and shelters has also worsened the effect of the pandemic on a lot of people.

The increase in poverty level has widened the inequality gap and the possibility of achieving the 17 sustainable development goals (SDG). Secondly the lock down kept a lot of farmers at home hindering them from utilizing the farming season, leading to food scarcity, gross shortage in food supply and distribution which has affected the quality of food as many distributors would do anything to increase their supply.

Secondly, the growing rise of insecurity ranging from Banditry, political tension, kidnapping, farmers/herdsmen clashes, inter-community clashes etc. pose high threats on our food system; farmers don’t feel save to go to farms anymore and others have been displaced from their communities due to the aforementioned insecurities.

Challenges like the lack of access to modern farm tools, absence of safe market system, bad roads, climate change and poor hygiene has also contributed to food insecurities faced. The marginalization and monopolization of market by big food distributors/ farmers against small scale farmers /distributors has also affected the heightened price of food and inequality in the food system.

Furthermore there is a wide gap between various food system stakeholders ranging from the government, various agricultural and food safety Agencies, groups: rural farmers, artisans, business women and men, market women, youths and health workers, not excluding LG Chairmen, traditional and religious leaders, rural food processors, marketers, value chain leaders and input service providers. Even though the government emphasizes the need to focus more on agriculture, there seem to be no effective policies and strategies that promote this agitation. There is a cogent need to create more realistic and effective mechanize/solution based food system policies, as part of the initiative to develop national pathways for food systems transformation.

THE ROLE OF THE YOUTH IN THE TRANSFORMATION FOOD SYSTEMS

Civil society organisations play a vital role in the cause to achieve food security and achieve the sustainable development goals (SDG). Young people can actively support the work of these civil societies either as grassroots catalyst, volunteers or as members. Young people can also use such platforms to take advantage of loans, grants and other support available that support sustainable transformation of the food system. . Civil Society Organisations both Local and international must also take up more projects that are geared towards achieving transformation in the food system……

While large populations of young people are unemployed, the food industry is a very good source of employment. Young people should also ensure the take up careers that promote food security, like going into Agriculture, food distribution, sale, transportation etc. Secondly young people should ensure they are Innovative and take advantage of mechanized systems and opportunity to promote a sustainable, safe and sufficient food system.

Youth should involve themselves in policy making and active policy advocacy. Young people can also adopt the habit of follow up (watch dogs) on policies and materials that are put in place to promote food security and report unhealthy practices in the food system to the appropriate authorities. Young people can also get involved in sensitization and advocacy on quality dieting, hygiene and other issues relating to food system/ food security.

Participation in politics cannot be overemphasized; young people need to be actively involved in politics, this will open doors for youth to come into position where the can make policies that affects the foods system and the SDG at large. Secondly actively participation in politics gives youth the opportunity to bring to power working government that share the vision of achieving food security.

Conclusion


Transforming food systems is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, young people form over 60 % of the population and work force, therefore they must be full partners in achieving transformational food system and the SDGs, the must be at the frontlines of the struggle to build a better future for all. While we cannot do it on our own we must take advantage of the opportunities and resources available to create change in our food system and society at large. Youth in Countries like Rwanda, Tanzania and others have set the ball rolling; it is expected that the youth in Nigeria push this ball till we reach the goal as the future is ours to own and live in.
Imagine what a ‘Long Food Movement’ could be achieve by 2045 if these movement succeed in collaborating more closely to transform financial flows, governance structures and food systems from the ground up.

Written By: 

Faith Akatiki Joseph

Please leave a thought at the comment box below!!

Published by faithakatiki

Faith Joseph is a Nigerian Citizen, a Personal Development Blogger and a young social development champion and a Lawyer by Profession. Akatiki is an lover of all forms of expressive art and has excelled in performing various. She is a passionate Writer and an Activist, she believes strongly in gender equity and holds the view that rather than being treated as male or female, we should be treated as humans irrespective of gender and make the world a better place for all.

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