The Group of Developing Countries with large Muslim population otherwise known as D-8 recently convened its fourth Agricultural Ministerial Meeting on Food Security. The meeting which took place at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja on the 6th of December 2013 had in attendance Ministers of Agriculture and Heads of Delegation from the 8 member countries namely: Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Turkey, Pakistan and the host Nigeria.
The meeting considered among other things the spate of global food price volatility and the rampant malnutrition which currently threaten the sustainable food systems of its members and mapped out strategies and steps aimed at promoting sustainable agricultural growth through a deliberate maintenance of an enabling environment which promotes increased public/private investment in the sector. It further identified the need to ramp-up production of agricultural commodities including fisheries.
The consensus position stemming from the gathering was that more robust effort had to be put in at the level of the Working Groups to guarantee the attainment of improved food security in the D-8 member countries particularly in the following areas:
1. Production, supply and distribution of quality fertilizers – both organic and inorganic. In this regard, attention will be paid to technology transfer, harmonization of standards and establishment of joint research. Also, intra –D8 trade will be enhanced to provide a safeguard for market access.
2. Support for the creation of Seed Banks which will be an avenue for the supply of quality seeds and the diversification of plant genetic resources. To this end, exchange of knowledge on the harmonization of the D-8 Seed Certification as well as Variety Registration System was stressed and agreed upon, culminating in the establishment of the D-8 Seed Council.
3. Fortify quality animal feed production and supply activities within the member countries through the collaborative execution of research and projects while utilizing the Organization’s Animal Feed Information Center as the prominent medium for the exchange of data, products and information on animal feed.
4. Specifically support on-going Marine Affairs and Fisheries efforts with a view to optimizing the Marine fisheries and aqua-culture sectors as food resources bases. In this wise, emphasis will be placed on technology transfer, capacity building, intra D-8 trade, quality and safety as well as ICT systems management.
5. Encourage the private sector – institutions and business – in the D-8 countries to participate in creating a framework for cooperation through public – private partnerships in the over-all food system transformation bid.
A major positive fall-out for Nigeria from the meeting was the identification of the enormous opportunities available for investments in Nigeria’s beef value chain. This was in response to a direct invitation from the Nigeria Minister who underscored the comparative advantage on Nigeria’s Halal meat industry.
Given the high pilgrim population which travels to Saudi Arabia each year, there is no reason why Nigeria should not tap into this giant market which is currently being serviced by Brazil.
The meeting ended with an offer from the Head of the Turkish delegation to host the 2014 edition.