If women had the same access to productivity as men they could increase yields in their fields by 20-30%. This alone would raise total agricultural output in developing countries (Nigeria included) by 2.5-4%, which would reduce the no of hungry people in the world by 12-17% or 100-150 million people. (FAO 2011)
The statistics around food security, youth unemployment, post-harvest losses and rural development has been very alarming and to worsen the already bad situation, the issues of migration have in recent years added to this menace.
The active workforce in the rural areas that produce 70% of our food keeps depleting on a daily basis as our young people are faced with the urban attractions to seek a greener pasture. This has reduced agricultural productivity and worsen food security challenges.
The effect of all these combined has also been implicated in malnutrition and maternal death especially in the rural areas. It is therefore not an accident that this years world food day seeks to address the SDG goal 2, ZERO HUNGER with the theme: Changing the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development.
To this end, CATO FOODS & AGROALLIED GLOBAL CONCEPTS, collaborated with YPard in celebrating of the 2017 world food day by organizing a sensitization program which took place in ILEOGBO, Ayedire Local Government of Osun State by 11am prompt on Monday 16th October.
Mr Aribisala the CEO of Cato Foods educated the women on the benefits of Vitamin A fortified foods; he stressed the fact that since cassava products are consumed daily by the women, eating a variety that has been cultivated using fortified stems would help curb malnutrition.
The local rep for YPard Akinremi Julian was of the opinion that since 85% of young people are living in developing countries and the rural-urban migration is having a devastating effect on the ability of agriculture to meet the food needs of the country and stand tall as the largest employer of labor and foreign exchange generator. Women in agriculture must embrace new technologies that would make their farm efforts yield more benefits.
Malnutirtion is one of the major challeneges faced in the rural areas, even though these kids live close to or on farm settlements, and they have access to fresh foods they still look skinny, unhealthy and weak. We know that the only way to reduce rural-urban migration is to ensure that the rural areas are developed and the environment is trendy enough for kids, teenagers and youth to grow. Smart Agriculture is wide enough to create the required jobs. Nearly all the deaths in children under 5 are attributed to undernutrition, hence the inclusion of vitamin A fortified food products would further decrease the health challenges cause by lack of sufficient vitamin A in diets.
Globally sub-Saharan Africa has one of the highest levels of child malnutrition hence the place of nutrient fortified foods in their diets would further reduce the number children growing undernurished. The ypard team encouraged refocused effort in agric practices and encouraged the women to avail themselves for training soon to be provided by Cato foods, get the vitamin a fortified cassava stems and also encourage male teenagers nd their husbands to practice agric using new best practices and not completely choose to drive motor bikes for a living as the cureent custom is.
They were encouraged to open better access channels to youths to bencourage them venture into farming, be more accomodating to other locals who come with the intent
of starting up farms, plant various newly deveoped seeds to inprove the quality of the products they take to the market and help them curb post havest losses, generate more
funds and eat nutritious food produced locally.
Statistics show that at least one in three children under 5 in Africa were stunted in 2011 (UNICEF), and Nigerias population is expected to be around 450million in 33years time, our rural areas must continue to grow and become more developed by the day to encourage young people to stay back and build businesses that would thrive and also encourage investors to set up agribusiness.
WHO predicts that by 2030 6 out of 10 people would be living in cities and this number is expected to rise to 7 out of 10. Cato foods recently opened a cassava processing factory in Ileogbo with the view to encouraging youths to build careers in agric, reduce rural-urban migration, create jobs and train women and youths on best agric practices. They had various products on display and gave out samples to the over 400 women that attended the program, the products include Garri,Fufu, Chips (Edible snacks), and custard all processed from vitamin Afortified cassava.
Mr Aribisala lamented the plight of our women who have had low yields from their farms, and the youths who have had to take up jobs as motor cycle drivers in cities, these he said was the reason for the challenges currently faced as regards food security in the country. He encouraged the women to attend various trainings Cato Foods had put in place to empower the women and youths, he also promised to give out cassava stems to the women.
Furthermore the Ypard rep noted that the migration from rural areas was affecting productivity in the agric sector which happens to be the largest in the continent, he told them that nearly all deaths in children under 5 are attributed to under nutrition and this attributed to the avoidable loss of about 3 million lives yearly, he told the women that working with young professionals in agriculture like Cato foods would ensure that their kids are well fed, their farms give maximum best yields, and their hope in the ability of agriculture to meet their daily needs would be rekindled.