Today is World Food Safety Day 2021. The Day is commemorated annually on June 7 and it contributes to food security, human health, economic prosperity, agriculture, access to markets, tourism and sustainable development by drawing attention and inspiring actions to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks. With this year’s theme as “Safe Food Today for a Healthy Tomorrow“, the World Health Organization (WHO) is commemorating the Day, by urging everyone to zero in on five food safety-related Calls To Action (CTAs), namely: ensure it is safe, grow it safe, keep it safe, know what’s safe, and team up for food safety. This year’s theme is highlighting the importance of guaranteeing sustainable production systems to ensure a healthy life, a healthy economy, a healthy planet, and a healthy future.

There are many factors connected to food safety. In a world where the food supply chain is gradually becoming convoluted, the resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 20, 2018, which that birthed the WFSD, notes that there is no food security without food safety and that any adverse food safety incidence may have negative effects globally on public health, trade and the economy. The resolution also notes that improving food safety contributes positively to trade, employment and poverty alleviation. The resolution also considers the global burden of foodborne diseases and how it affects individuals of all ages, in particular children under 5, and those living in low-income regions of the world.

Indeed, food safety, apart from being a crucial component to food security, saves lives as well as contribute significantly to a reduction in foodborne disease. In recognizing the interconnectedness of people, animals and the environment and any safety adverse event that may have a global impact on public health, trade and economy, DDI joins in this global call to ensure that the food we eat is kept safe by everyone on the food chain – the growers, harvesters, processors, storers, transporters, sellers, preparers, and servers. According to the FAO, food production will need to grow by 70% to feed world population which will reach 9 billion by 2050, and that there is a need for an integrated and innovative approach to the global effort of ensuring sustainable food production and consumption.

With food safety as an integral part of food security and an important contributor towards increasing competitiveness in export markets, Diamond Development Initiatives (DDI) has since 2002, provided agricultural value chain improvement and agricultural commodity market access services to farmers and producer groups. These services are delivered through the provision of sustained value chain development and improvement support to smallholder farmer groups and cooperatives, with access to Best Agronomic Practices and a range of other services necessary for enhancing quality of agricultural products as they move from farm to final consumer, while also assisting them with efficient product marketing and facilitating direct product-to-consumer interface. In ‘growing it safe’, DDI, in 2020 alone, provided this support to over 6,000 smallholder farmers across Nigeria including 19 cooperatives/farmer or producer groups.

In keeping it safe and teaming up for food safety, DDI, is excited about its strategic linkages and works in ensuring sustainable food production and consumption in Nigeria through the provision of project management and business advisory assistance to off-grid energy entrepreneurs who occupy strategic positions in the food chain. Take for example Habiba Ali, who runs Sosai Renewable Energies, an off-grid energy company who identified some 90% agrarian communities in Kaduna, Northern Nigeria who cultivate pepper and other perishable crops but lacked effective drying facilities due largely to lack of power, hence, they suffered significant post-harvest losses and loss of revenue. With a $100,000 grant from United States African Development Foundation (USADF), Sosai Renewables Energies came up with a solar energy solution that enables women to dry their farm produce using solar power. By September 2018, the company had deployed two 10kW mini-grids, solar kiosks and solar tunnel dryers – connecting a total of 93 rural households to electricity, while the dryers are serving rural women farmers in good stead for drying and preserving their produce.

Another example is Eastwind Laboratories, an off-grid company based in Osun State. Again, with funding from USADF and support from DDI, Eastwind Laboratories has successfully deployed a 20kWp solar-powered containerized cold storage facility and freezing units, and is currently serving over 700 persons who need refrigeration as a service for their perishable foods, curbing waste and loss of revenue.

As we commemorate this year’s WFSD, our message is simple: all hands must be on deck as we make concerted efforts to ensure that the food we eat is kept safe by everyone along the food chain. Let this be our meaningful contribution to ensuring a healthy life, a healthy economy, a healthy planet, and indeed, a healthy future. Food safety is our collective responsibility. Happy World Food Safety Day 2021