The National Council for Women Societies (NCWS) under the able leadership of Dr Gloria Laraba Shoda, recently organised a National Food Unity Food Fair with the aim to celebrate Nigeria’s diverse cuisine and agricultural products, effective food distribution, food security and providing global certification for home grown commodities and produce. In this report, JOY YESUFU looks at what the three days conference was able to achieve.
The National Unity Food Fair was instituted and convened by the National Council of Women Societies of Nigeria (NCWS) in collaboration with Travel Marketing Partners Nigeria Ltd as an annual food show and marketing event for agricultural products and produce, and in particular, to x-ray the contributions of Nigerian women in the agricultural sector of the national economy for food sufficiency and food security.
The event offered a platform for public and private sector stakeholders, producers and consumers to come together to share ideas, experiences, exchange knowledge and showcase their skills in the growth, development and promotion of the nation’s agricultural sector by promoting the ideals of ‘Growing what we eat and eating what we grow’.
It was essentially to showcase and exhibit the diversity and richness of Nigerian food culture hence the theme of the fair was ‘Celebration of Nigeria’s Diversity in Cuisine and Agricultural Products’ as well as bring to the fore the great role of Nigerian women in the food and agricultural value chain of the country in other to empower them for more productive and participatory performance in the sector.
The 2018, which is the maiden edition of the National Unity Food Fair, showcased exhibition of ready-made consumables, fresh, raw, dry and processed food; a skill acquisition and entrepreneurial training session for participants in the business of agriculture, food packaging and marketing as well as a conference to deliberate and proffer viable and implementable strategies of agricultural practices and food production that would ensure food sufficiency and food security for the country.
The conference, which was chaired by Special Adviser to the NCWS National President on Diaspora, Dr Idowu Olugbenga Oresanyan, had in attendance dignitaries and guests from Agricultural-related and the food industry.
In his opening remarks, Dr Oresanyan, who extolled the virtues of NCWS as a formidable body aimed at putting smiles on the faces of Nigerian women and protecting their rights, called on the Nigerian women to individually and collectively work towards the uplift of their status in the society.
He said politically, women constitute majority of the Nigerian voters and thus called on them to use their franchise judiciously at election time, stressing that though Nigerian women are equally greater in number in terms of farming, they remain less prosperous due to their exclusion in accessing major agricultural inputs on a larger scale. He called on them to use the opportunity offered by the conference to proffer solutions on the way out.
In the presentation from the Federal Ministry of Water Resources by the Honourable Minister of the Ministry, Engr Suleiman Adamu, ably represented by the director, Special Duties of the Ministry, Mr Peter Nwanpa, on the topic; ‘River Basins and Agricultural Development in Nigeria’, in which he highlighted the various River Basins in the country and their activities as well as the ministry’s objectives on food security, rural development, provision of water for irrigation, fisheries and power generation.
The speaker also pointed out that the ministry has a gender unit, which serves as a platform to empower women, sighting projects such as water kiosk that had been established in market places and motor parks with 12 states of the federation used as pilot projects.
The second paper titled: “Food Business Opportunities and Entrepreneurship in Nigeria,”was from the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investments and was presented by the permanent secretary of the ministry, Mr Sunday Edet Akpan, who highlighted the ministry’s food and agricultural objectives to revolve around achieving food security, effective food distribution, improving market accessibility and providing global certification for home grown commodities and produce.
In its efforts to reach women further down the value chain, the ministry said it established special platforms to help train and interface with women and has plans to ensure that this is achieved throughout the six geo-political zones of the country.
Reactions and discussions on the papers presented ensued with participants making relevant observations, suggestions and adoptions of major decisions at the conference.
The conference continued for the third day, chaired by the Special Adviser to the NCWS National President on Diaspora, Dr Idowu Olugbenga Oresanyan, who in his opening remarks, thanked the women for their impressive turn out, especially for the training sessions, asking them to utilise every information availed them by the conference to better their lots when they return to their various states.
In the first presentation of the day, Hassan Abdullahi, from the National Productivity Centre presented a paper titled, ‘Women in Agriculture and Food Business’, in which he pointed out that Nigeria has all the ingredients to be a strong economic power in the field of agriculture and that this assertion is dependent on the need for everyone in the value chain to understand what productivity is, which is the relationship between the inputs (labour, capital etc) and the output (the end product).
In explaining how to achieve an appreciable level of productivity, he revealed that the National Productivity Centre has persons that will come into the business of the women in a bid to aid them to improve their level of productivity.
He was quick to point out that one’s attitude to business is a key element to achieving a higher level of productivity and that the desire to use technology to improve one’s output is also seen as productivity. He simply illustrated as
Productivity = Effectiveness + Efficiency.
On the subject of quality; he pointed out that productivity with higher quality will always attract higher patronage and added that quality is hinged on productivity based on the need to do the right thing, indicating that it is not only about working hard but more about working smarter such as embracing the use of machines and equipment to improve yield.
He urged the women to avoid cultural factors that can negatively affect their productivity and performance. Analysing the framework for productivity performance, the speaker advised the women to involve their employees in their business thought process. The framework also entails; management cooperation to improve productivity performance.
He indicated the need for the women to invite the National Productivity Centre, so as to get the required tools to improve their productivity performance levels in their various businesses.
He further said the National Productivity Centre has offices in 13 states of the federation for easy access by the women under the National Council For Women.
The sessions came to an end with the women indicating that they have benefited immensely and demanded that it be repeated next year, with the Special Adviser to the NCWS National President on Diaspora, Dr IdowuOlugbenga Oresanyan, promising that this year’s event would be properly appraised and two other committees would be set up with the approval of the national president.
He pointed out that productivity with higher quality will always attract higher patronage and added that quality is hinged on productivity based on the need to do the right thing, indicating that it is not only about working hard but more about working smarter
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