Nigeria, along with 22 other countries around the world, will face extreme food insecurity over the next four months, according to the World Food Programme (WFP), as the magnitude and severity of food insecurity continue to rise.

According to research retrieved from the World Food Programme’s website, the situation is gravely concerning, since the conflict, the economic ramifications of Covid-19, and the climate disaster are anticipated to create increased levels of severe food insecurity in these “hunger hotspot” countries.

The 23 hotspots identified are Afghanistan, Angola, Central Africa Republic, Central Sahel, Chad, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, and El Salvador. The rest are Honduras, Guatemala, Haiti, Kenya, Lebanon, Madagascar, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sierra Leone as well as Liberia, Somalia, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, and Yemen.

This is just as the WFP and the Organised Private Sector (OPS) in Nigeria have partnered to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030.

The partnership is apt as agri-food systems are failing and not sustainable in many parts of the world posing a great threat to global food insecurity.

Recently, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and WFP warned that 41 million people were at risk of falling into famine unless they received immediate food and livelihood assistance, stating that 2020 saw 155 million people facing acute food insecurity.

WFP stated that bureaucratic obstacles, as well as a lack of funding, also hamper the two UN agencies’ efforts to provide emergency food assistance and enable farmers to plant at scale and at the right time.

The Director-General, FAO, QU Dongyu, said the vast majority of those on the verge are farmers, stressing that alongside food assistance, world food bodies would do all they can to help farmers resume food production themselves so that families and communities can move back towards self-sufficiency and not just depend on aid to survive.

“That is difficult without access, and without adequate funding and so far, support to agriculture as key means of preventing widespread famine remains largely overlooked by donors, unfortunately. Without such support to agriculture, humanitarian needs will keep skyrocketing, that’s inevitable,” he added.

The Executive Director, WFP, David Beasley said families that rely on humanitarian assistance to survive are hanging by a thread, saying that the thread to reach these families describing the consequences as nothing short of catastrophic.

The report also said the new highest alerts issued for Ethiopia and Madagascar add to South Sudan, Yemen, and northern Nigeria, which remain among the acute food insecurity hotspots of greatest global concern.

“In some areas of these countries populations already experiencing conditions of famine and significant numbers of people are at risk of falling into famine,” WFP added.

The report also flags other countries as amongst the worst hunger hotspots – where life-threatening hunger is on the rise – Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo – the country with the highest number of people in urgent need of food assistance in the world, Haiti, Honduras, Sudan, and Syria.

Meanwhile, speaking at a forum in Lagos, the Country Director in Nigeria, WFP, Paul Howe, said there is an urgent need for a holistic society approach to achieve zero hunger, maintaining that to address food insecurity, there is a need to tap into the dynamism of Nigeria which he described as a gateway to achieving food security in Africa and indeed the rest of the world.

Howe stated this at a zero hunger sprint pitch event to reward five young entrepreneurs with innovation and ideas to finding practical ideas to ending hunger in Nigeria.

“The problem of hunger in Nigeria goes beyond the North East and much bigger than any single entity can address on its own. We really need a holistic society approach to achieve zero hunger. We must tap into the potential that is here in Nigeria for us to be successful. So fuller societies approach, the government, private sector, UN agencies, development agencies must work together in tapping into the dynamism that Nigeria has, “he said.

He said the zero hunger sprint pitch event expected to reward five entrepreneurs with $50,000 each would expose young and talented people with incredible ideas while also matching them with mentors and investors that would help to address food insecurity.

“We are very much aware that the problems of hunger with conflict, high food prices, Covid-19 are big in Nigeria and we also know that the potential of this society is even bigger and we are hoping to use this event to address this problem,” he said.

In his words, “One of the things we want to do with the conference is to make sure that it does not end today as entrepreneurs would get access to funds from investors and mentorship to help them through this process of getting started. We are looking for ideas that young companies have and we hope that these great ideas will be the start of efforts to end hunger.”

Also speaking, the Chief Executive Officer, Tony Elumelu Foundation and Chairman of Zero Hunger Roundtable, Ms Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, said the objective of the pitch is to connect private sector companies to invest in investor-ready startups, stating that for close to a decade, food insecurity has been increasing with insecurity in the North East as well as communal conflicts as operators are straining under the weights of insecurity.

She said as a result of this, WFP Nigeria in 2020 collaborated with the government and the private sector to convene the Zero hunger roundtable bringing together key actors to address the severe hunger challenges in Nigeria by exploring new ways to eliminate the causes of hunger and contribute Nigeria’s effort to achieve Zero hunger by 2030.

According to her, through innovation, Nigeria can truly rise up to the challenge of food insecurity, pointing out that through innovation, the private sector and entrepreneurs can blaze the trail to achieve Zero Hunger in Nigeria by 2030, boost food production by connecting smallholder farmers to markets and accelerate the transformation and consumption of nutritious foods.

She added that by investing in these innovative ideas, strongly linked to zero hunger, Nigeria food systems would receive a much-needed boost from the private sector.

“The two key areas of investment needed support to the smallholder farmers and support to transformative approaches.”We are here with these innovators that would blaze the trail in our efforts to end hunger by achieving SDG 2 Zero hunger in Nigeria by 2030,” she added.

She noted that Nigeria has many incredible startups that would provide solutions to Nigeria’s agricultural sector.

The Corporate Relations Director, Guinness Nigeria Plc, Rotimi Odusola, said Nigeria is where it is due to the culmination of a problem that has been long coming, stressing that the fight against hunger is a collective responsibility having neglected the agricultural sector for decades.

“We are looking for ideas that are scalable, ideas that would result to very impactful multiplications, ideas that smallholder farmers can exponentially use to multiply their activities in the country to end hunger. This is just the beginning of one of the efforts to tackle food insecurity, “he said.

Mastercard Confers Quality Certification on Electronic Pay plus

Globally acclaimed electronic payment company, MasterCard, has retained its seal of authority on the quality of cards produced by Nigeria’s foremost smart card manufacturer and payment solution company, Electronic Payplus (Epay Plus) Limited.

Epay Plus, a member of the prestigious International Cards Manufacturers Association (ICMA), recently announced a partnership with another international electronic payment company, American Express, to produce its range of smart cards in Nigeria.

American Express, in its approval, said Electronic Payplus Limited had complied with the security requirements as stipulated by the Payment Card Industry (PCI).

MasterCard, in a Statement of Quality letter, dated June 10, 2021, said it restated approval to Electronic Payplus Limited, based on the company’s submission of, “a number of Smart Cards Products and Services in conformity with the MasterCard Card Quality Management (CQM) Requirements.”

It further noted that “the terms and conditions of the MasterCard Card Quality Management Certification Agreement shall apply to this Statement of Quality and related CQM Label(s).”

Electronic Payplus Limited started operations in May 2005, as a payment service provider. Sixteen years later, the Company has grown to become Nigeria’s biggest Smart and Digital Card production, with the capacity to produce all kinds of secure cards.

Apart from bank cards, the company has expanded capacity to produce SIM Cards, Biometric Identity Cards, Electronic ticketing for public transportation (Rail, Bus Rapid Transport, Ferry, etc.), Voter’s Card and Residency Cards for Diplomatic and Expatriate Workers.

Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Electronic Payplus Limited, Mr Bayo Adeokun, described the MasterCard Card Quality Management (CQM) as a vote of confidence on the quality of cards produced by his company.

“What this means is that Mastercard has certified that all products from our factory meet the required standard as specified by MasterCard and they are of the same quality as products from any other MasterCard certified factory in the World. As you can see, this certificate was issued on 10th June 2021,” Adeokun explained.

Electronic Payplus Limited continues to bolster Payment Card Industry confidence in the range of card service offerings, which include Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Verve, with the high quality and security of cards produced in its facility.

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