Public Lecture: Experts raise alarm over ‘impending’ food crisis

From Cyriacus Nnaji, Lagos

Experts in agriculture have called on governments at various levels to put in place necessary infrastructure to solve the problem of food wastage in order to arrest the country’s slide into a food crisis.

Delivering the 10th Lagos State University’s (LASU) Public Lecture, organised by the School of Agriculture, Prof. Adegbola Adesogan, Dr. Adebimpe Onifade, Dr. Sunday Akinyemi and Dr. Khadeejah Kareem-Ibrahim, said COVID-19 has thrown up a major challenge in food availability.

The lecture, which has its theme: ‘Challenges and Opportunities for Ensuring Food Safety in Post COVID-19 Era’, took place via the Zoom platform with over 100 participants.

Prof. Adesogan, who is a Professor of Animal Nutrition at the University of Florida, in his lecture titled “Global Food Disruptions Caused by COVID-19 and Changes Needed to Prevent Future Occurrences” revealed that one of the biggest challenges facing the world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is food crisis, which is brought about, not by lack of food, but the accessibility to, and affordability of it.

He said the pandemic has disrupted both the demand for and the supply of food leading to a surge in the cost of food items in many parts of the world.

On his part, Dr. Adebimpe Onifade, the Managing Partner, Echo Consulting Group, New Jersey, USA, who spoke on the topic: “Agriculture: a Largely Unexplored Wealth Builder,” said Nigeria is capable of achieving wealth and food security with the right policies as well as needed infrastructures.

“Food is critical to survival so Agriculture is a wealth, but I don’t know the mechanics behind it. And even though it is a risky business, Science, Technology and new methods of doing things are giving better ways to control agricultural input, process and output,” he said.

The third speaker, Dr. S.O.S Akinyemi, who is the Director of Research, National Horticultural Research Institute, Ibadan, spoke on “Improving the Plantain/Banana Value Chain.

He corroborated the first two speakers on the need to support farmers and put in place the necessary infrastructure to prevent wastage using Plantain and Banana production in Nigeria as an example.

In her lecture titled “Curbing Post- Harvest Losses in Agriculture”, Dr. Kareem-Ibrahim-a lecturer in the Department of Animal Science, LASU, warned that food security is one of the biggest challenges currently confronting the world.

She added that food production has to grow by 70percent to cater for the world population, which is predicted to reach 10.5 billion people by 2050.

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