Nigeria Seeks Solutions to Food Insecurity – Innovation Minister

The Federal Government is committed to finding innovative solutions to address food insecurity in the country, according to Uche Nnaji, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Technology. He made this statement during the opening ceremony of a four-day workshop focused on advancing satellite-based crop monitoring (CROPWATCH) to enhance resilience against global food insecurity.

Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa with over 220 million people, faces escalating hunger due to conflict, rising inflation, and climate change. Projections indicate that 26.5 million Nigerians could experience acute hunger between June and August 2024, a significant increase from the 18.6 million people affected by the end of 2023.

Representing the Minister, Permanent Secretary Esuabana Nko-Asanye emphasized the need to transform agricultural production through technology, such as the CropWatch program, to adapt to climate change challenges.

Dr. Matthew Adepoju, Director-General of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), highlighted the collaboration with the Aerospace Information Research Centre of the Chinese Academy of Science to tailor the CropWatch System for Nigeria. He explained that satellite-based systems like CropWatch utilize remote sensing and ground data to assess crop growth, yield, and other related information at national and global levels.

“Space technology provides data on crop phenology, plant nutrition, water optimization, soil health, crop health, and yields. This aids farmers in monitoring and improving crop production, reducing costs, and ensuring year-round agricultural production. Additionally, satellite images help create various maps, such as land suitability and agroecological zone maps, which provide timely information for sustainable land use and management,” Adepoju stated.

Wu Yirong, Director of the Aerospace Information Research Centre of the Chinese Academy of Science, noted that the workshop showcases Nigeria’s achievements with CropWatch and announced plans to establish the first West African Regional CropWatch Centre in Nigeria.

Representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nigerian Meteorological Agency, and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization emphasized the importance of embracing technology and innovation to combat food insecurity.

The workshop, organized by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in collaboration with the Aerospace Information Research Centre of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (AIRCAS), the Alliance of International Science Organisations (ANSO), and NASRDA, included participants from various African countries.

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