Rapid urbanization is dramatically changing demographics throughout the world, and especially in Nigeria. New research shows urbanization has been underestimated in Nigeria so far—already in 2010, 46 percent of the Nigerian population lived in urban areas, up from 31 percent found in previous assessments. While Nigeria has made impressive gains made in the service industry, challenges remain: The economy heavily depends on oil, and agriculture and manufacturing have been neglected. Moreover, hunger and undernutrition persist, especially in the Northern regions, and overweight and obesity are rising. Thus, agri-food systems will be key to continue to usher in inclusive development and economic transformation.
Last week in Abuja, we launched the 2017 Global Food Policy Report, which focuses on how urbanization presents challenges and opportunities for food security and nutrition in Nigeria and beyond. IFPRI’s Nigeria Strategy Support Program (NSSP), which co-organized the event, has worked to support Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and others with research and capacity strengthening to enhance productivity, growth, and poverty reduction in Nigeria. One of the key issues discussed was how to fix broken food chains and link millions of smallholders in rural areas to increasingly affluent urban consumers.
To help achieve these goals, I, along with NSSP Program Leader George Mavrotas, met with the Honorable Chief Audu Innocent Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria. We had an excellent meeting, reiterating our commitment to reshape agriculture to deliver on nutrition and to help develop the sector to realize its commercial and export potential. For example, IFPRI-NSSP’s work to build capacity at agriculture-oriented universities can help prepare the new generation of agricultural entrepreneurs and graduates in the country.
George and I also met with Senator Dr. Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, Chairman Senate Committee on Media & Public Affairs representing Niger North Senatorial District, in Abuja. We discussed the importance of increasing agricultural research investment to boost productivity and improve the comparative advantage of agriculture—reforming Nigeria’s agricultural research system will be key. By continuing to work together, we can help make these goals a reality.