Live blog Nutrition For Growth Event 4.00 p.m. – Nigeria: Agriculture as Priority

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Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture Dr. Akinwumi  Adesina speaking as a panelist on Promoting African Agriculture: New Alliance for Food and Nutrition Security Agriculture today in London has articulated with exuberance and resolve Nigeria’s aggressive agriculture policy.

Leveraging  mobile technology has enabled efficient distribution of seeds and fertilizers among farmers by registering 4.2 million farmers  through full biometrics, to ensure we (Ministry of Agriculture) know who received what. In the past, seeds and fertilizers were distributed through middle men, which cost the government millions of dollars over decades.

At the core of Dr. Adesina’s vision is to take agriculture fully out of the sphere of development and into the sphere of business. This vision is coming into fruition as 22 local companies will be investing in Nigeria’s agriculture to bring forth a robust agribusiness sector.

Dr. Adesina also highlighted and urged the need for doing business with women “We have to focus on linking women farmers and scientist and a special facility to incentivize them and support women owned agribusiness.”

With a strong focus toward being self-sufficient, Dr. Adesina articulated a target to lift rice dependency by 2015.

Live blog Nutrition For Growth Event 1.00 p.m. – Malawi’s Plan

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Photo: Rahwa Meharena

President of Malawi Joyce Banda speaking at the Nutrition for Growth event in London today stated her government’s commitment to addressing under-nutrition, child stunting and hunger through government policy, technology, traditional leadership and public and private partnership.

With Malawi having the highest rate of stunting at 47%, it aims to review national policy and strategy by December 2013 and develop a Nutrition Act by 2016 all of which should increase government spending on nutrition from 0.1% to 0.3%.

President Banda emphasized job creation which increases household income and is crucial towards fighting systemic poverty and hunger.

The government of Malawi is building upon the momentum of IIIovo on sugar fortification with vitamin A and mobilizing traditional authority to scale up nutrition. President Banda has reinforced this point by saying “Chiefs in Malawi play an important role in scaling up nutrition, because people listen to what they say.”

Live blog from Nutrition For Growth Event 11.30 a.m. – Angelique Kidjo speaks

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Grammy award winning International superstar and native of Benin Angelique Kidjo stopped by the press room today after taking part in the opening session of the Nutrition for Growth Event. Ms. Kidjo touched on the factors that contribute to under-nutrition and shared valuable insight and strategies for diaspora engagement in tackling such issues on the African continent.

On contributing to food insecurity and overall contributors to rampant under-nutrition and hunger, she emphasized the nexus between controversial issues such as land grabs and local farmers who find it difficult to eat, compared with companies that do business in Africa who don’t pay taxes (in those countries). She also spoke on the failure of the West to include African people in the groundwork of overcoming their own challenges.

“People who are trying to help in Africa (we) are not statistics, we are brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and uncle…we’ve got to have emotional and human connections with the African people  and ask them what works in their communities in their villages.”

Ms. Kidjo also expressed the need to convey messages in native languages as a way engage and mobilize Africa’s rural sector, and the role the diaspora can play through social media and other forms of activism.