In a bid to enhance food and nutrition security, Nigeria and Ireland are poised to strengthen their bilateral relations in the field of agriculture. This significant development follows a recent courtesy visit by a delegation from Ireland’s Ministry for Agriculture, Food, and Marine to the office of Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security in Nigeria. The Irish delegation, led by its Secretary-General, Mr. Brendan Gleeson, engaged in fruitful discussions with their Nigerian counterparts, exploring opportunities for collaboration in the agricultural sector. The visit marked a pivotal moment in the pursuit of shared goals related to agriculture and food security.
Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, during the meeting, underscored the pivotal role agriculture plays in Nigeria’s economy and the urgency of fostering a robust partnership with Ireland. He highlighted President Bola Tinubu’s recent declaration of a state of emergency on agriculture and food security, emphasizing the government’s commitment to implementing programs and policies aimed at enhancing food security, job creation, and poverty eradication. Nigeria, as the most populous country in Africa, boasts vast arable land conducive to the development of diverse agricultural value chains. The nation has a commendable track record in the production of grains, horticultural products, livestock, and more. Dr. Umakhihe acknowledged Ireland’s achievements in the production of milk, wheat, beef, potatoes, poultry, and other agricultural products. He expressed Nigeria’s readiness to collaborate with Ireland to achieve food and nutrition security and sustainability. To facilitate this collaboration, Dr. Umakhihe proposed the establishment of a joint technical committee comprising members from both countries. This committee would work to fine-tune the discussed issues and explore opportunities for cooperation.
In response, Brendan Gleeson, the Secretary-General of Ireland’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Marine, highlighted the common interests of both nations in achieving food security for mutual benefits. He stated, “We are here to build a strong relationship that would have a significant impact on both countries.” Gleeson acknowledged the challenges Nigeria faces and emphasized the importance of research, continuous education, and advice to farmers to address them. He expressed anticipation of a stronger bilateral relationship that would enhance food and nutrition security for both nations. His Excellency Peter Ryan, the Ambassador of Ireland to Nigeria, also emphasized Ireland’s commitment to food security and its determination to maintain it. He pointed out that Nigeria needed to work on aspects such as research and development, capacity-building, cattle breeding, and food marketing to achieve similar food security levels.
The meeting between Nigerian and Irish officials marked the beginning of a promising collaboration. It explored potential areas of cooperation and partnership to strengthen the agricultural sector in both countries and improve food and nutrition security. As both nations move forward with this initiative, the prospect of a more food-secure and prosperous future for their citizens comes into sharper focus.