December 5, 2022

Soils: Where food begins!

December 5, 2022

Soils: Where food begins!

Healthy soils are the basis for healthy and nutritious food: it all starts in soils, where food begins!

While at the recent #COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, I took the opportunity to update my knowledge of agriculture and food security at the first-ever food systems pavilion, and with the Islamic Development Bank, both who shined a spotlight on the foundation of life on land.

The pavilion, and Adaptation and Agriculture Day at #AfricaCOP represented an extensive and important opportunity to ensure that the health of the planet’s soil, and with it, all the nutritional, ecosystem, and climate benefits soil provides is considered by policymakers in discussions, and led to a new United Nations agreement on a four-year plan and initiative aimed at scaling up finance to transform agriculture by 2030.

Alongside this, in my discussions with Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO of the Islamic Development Bank Group’s international trade financing arm, the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), and Acting CEO of the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), I was pleased to learn that since its inception, the Bank has approved a total of US$12.3 billion for investment projects in agriculture and rural development across its 57 member countries, including the Nigerian states of Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Imo, Cross River, Ogun, and Oyo, and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, with the ISDB and the Government of Nigeria recently signing a US$150 million financing agreement for a flagship project that provides extensive support to the country’s food security.

As part of a mega co-financing effort for the launching of the Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zone (SAPZ) Project in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the project aims to support poverty alleviation, stimulate sustainable activities for low-income households, and enhance the competitiveness of the agriculture sector through the promotion of select value chains in the country.

In addition to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), SAPZ Program will cover seven other states namely Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Imo, Cross River, Ogun, and Oyo, while the ISDB Project will cover FCT, Kano, and Kwara States, towards (i) development of infrastructure for 3 Agro-Industrial Processing Hubs (AIHs); (ii) 10 Agricultural Transformation Centers (ATCs); (iii) improvement of irrigated land & farm to market access roads; (iv) supply of certified agricultural inputs and extension services; (v) skills development for 10,000 farmers and MSMEs; and (vi) updating agro-industrial zone policy and establishment of a regulatory institution/special regulatory regime.

Expected outcomes are: (i) increasing investments by private sector companies within the AIHs by US$375 million; (ii) creating 185,000 new jobs, including 50% for women and 50% for youth; (iii) increasing the yields of key crops by at least 50%; (iv) reducing post-harvest losses within the catchment area by at least 10-20%; and (v) increasing in the income of small producers/farmers by 25%. Once operational, the project will support inclusive and sustainable agro-industrial development and enhance the competitiveness of the agriculture sector through the promotion of select value chains.

The Agriculture and Rural Development department develops and implements the Bank’s strategy, assistance framework, plan of action and work program in the agriculture and rural development sector. Its mission is to promote sustainable, inclusive, integrated and equitable agriculture and rural development that supports the modernization of food systems, enhances food security and increases the resilience of populations through efficient natural resources management, and increased productivity and connectivity.

The Project will contribute to Nigeria’s effort in achieving its SDG targets, specifically on the following: SDG1, SDG2, SDG5, SDG9, SDG12, SDG13 & SDG17.

Nigeria became a member of the IsDB Group in 2005. The country is a key beneficiary of the IsDB financing in Africa with a total portfolio of approved operations amounting to US$ 1.8 billion. IsDB Group’s financial support for Nigeria is diverse, covering broad sectors of the economy. Agriculture infrastructure projects account for 29 % of IsDB’s financing for Nigeria, followed by health (18%), transportation (17%), and water (15%), among others. The Bank also has a solid pipeline of projects to be processed between 2022 and 2023.

Over the last 70 years, the level of vitamins and nutrients in food has drastically decreased, and it is estimated that 2 billion people worldwide suffer from lack of micronutrients, known as #hiddenhunger, with about two-thirds of the world’s population at risk of deficiency in one or more essential mineral elements.

My Wellbeing Foundation Africa has long worked to combat nutrition deficiencies and educate families and communities through our historical Alive and Thrive and Mamacare+NLift iterations,, as well as current LOORS-Zinc programming because we know that impact in health and social development is most keenly felt and measured at the household level in improving daily nutrition and food security.

This #WorldSoilDay2022, we must immediately take action to prevent and reverse nutrient imbalances in agri-food systems, as soil plays a key role in all four dimensions of food security: availability, access, utilisation and stability.

#WorldSoilDay #Soils4Nutrition #MaternalMonday

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