Stakeholders Highlight Importance of Virile Transport, Logistic System To Food Security

By Babajide Okeowo

As the fear of food insecurity intensifies and Nigeria moves towards building a resilient food system, stakeholders in the  Supply Chain industry have highlighted the importance of a virile transport and logistics industry to this drive.

Speaking at the Public Presentation of the Nigerian Logistics and Supply Chain Industry 2022 Report and 11th Fellowship Investiture and Membership Induction Ceremony, they opined that Nigeria must build high resilience to supply chain disruption to avert food insecurity.

According to Prof Samuel Adewunmi, a Professor of Transport, Environment and Logistics at the School of Transport and Logistics, Lagos State University, Ojo, there are many areas in the country that are in the surplus of agricultural products but unable to move the product to where they are required.

“There are several issues causing disruption including transportation and logistics. As of today, many areas are in possession of a surplus of agricultural materials but unable to bring them to where they are needed.

How do we build a robust resilient system that even when these disruptions come, we will be able to rise up and continue on our way? We cannot assume that in the present world that we are in that disruptions won’t come

Supply chain and logistics is a very recent field here in Nigeria and in Africa generally, recently when Bill Gates came here, he wanted to distribute drugs, and he discovered that there are few logistics experts, he then came to LASU at the African Resource Center to say, okay, let’s start training people” he pointed out.

On his part, Dr Obiora Madu, Director General of the African Centre for Supply Chain (ACSC), and CEO of Multimix Group disclosed that there is a need to create resilience as our supply chain has been problematic prior to now.

“Creating resilience is actually strengthening your supply chain. That’s what it means. Before COVID-19, our supply chain was already problematic. Then COVID came and exposed it more.

So, the point is that if you know the quantity of perishable foods in Nigeria every year either because they were unable to get to where they will be sold or lack of supply chain logistics and all that.

So, the issue is that until we pay attention to the supply chain and build the necessary infrastructure, hunger is looming.

You saw the graph that the keynote speakers showed that every year more people are entering into the insecure people as far as the food supply is concerned, it is difficult.

I think the people who are in charge need to understand because until they understand, then they can do something about it.

The good thing is that we are aware of those problems, we are aware of the critical or let’s say very concrete steps that must be taken.

We know the issue with the access to transportation, talking about how to do that transportation, getting the right access.

The disruption that’s happening in Nigeria is much greater than what is happening in Ukraine and Russia.

Look, we don’t have the infrastructure. As far as the supply chain is concerned, forget about infrastructure. As you see is individual efforts in a difficult environment. So really this Ministry of Transportation should actually be Ministry Of Supply Chain so that we can move away from this emphasis on transportation.

But even the transportation, where are the roads, there is no multi-modal mode of transportation.

Look, we have inland waterways, which is a good one, that will do quite a lot. I mean inland waterways because it is recognized in the ecosystem as part of international trade.

We are not taking advantage of our position to do cargo for land-locked countries. So, we don’t realize what we start to gain from the supply chain.

We should have been the hub for West and Central Africa, but we’re nowhere, we’re nowhere to be found” he lamented.

Similarly, Dr Innocent Okuku, Vice President West African Fertilizer Association (WAFA) noted that food security is extremely important for every population.

“For example, today it’s reported that Nigeria has got over 35 million individuals that are food insecure in only 28 states.

Unfortunately, you cannot be food secure if you don’t have an efficient supply chain system in place.

It is all about the farmer producing the food and those who require the food being able to access them, as in the market where the consumers will get them from, all of that is a supply chain function.

So, without an effective supply chain, we cannot even produce” he pointed out.

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