Stakeholders seek solutions to food insecurity, micronutrient deficiency in Nigeria

Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition

STAKEHOLDERS in the agricultural sector are seeking solutions and collaborations from all to solve the challenges of food insecurity and micronutrient deficiency through best practices and biofortified foods.

They spoke in Ibadan on Tuesday at the Agribusiness Innovation Clinic organised by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).

Commenting, Prof. Ibiyemi Olayiwola, Department of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, said the event was timely because of the food insecurity and nutrition situation in the country.

Olayiwola said that the country needs to scale up because “insecurity is leading to poor food intake and the nutrition insecurity is leading to poor quality of life.”

According to her, people are not living very well and the workforce is affected; women are affected and the infants are not growing as they should.

“Less than 20 per cent of children in Nigerians are not having adequate diet, because mothers cannot diversify from five food groups and giving a child adequate food with micronutrients is not being followed,” she said.

Olayiwola, however, called for collaborative efforts to tackle the looming challenge of food and nutrition insecurity headlong, because it has ripple effects on all aspects of life.

In his remarks, Mr Niyi Adebisi, Oyo State Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said that a nation that could not make nutritious food available, accessible and affordable to her citizenry all year round, might be spending more on healthcare management that could be avoided.

Adebisi said: “Such money can be invested in another profitable venture.

“It is a matter of joy for me to note that GAIN trained over 500 (farmers, processors and aggregators) and empower them by supplying inputs such as Vitamin A Cassava cuttings, OFSP (Orange flesh sweet potato) vines, Organic and Foliar fertilisers.

“Herbicides to 110 farmers in the selected four local government areas: Afijio, Ido, Oyo West and Iseyin in Oyo State in the past two months to strengthening nutrition in priority staples.

“This will increase the consumption of nutritious foods by smallholder farmers, their families and the entire populace and also the use of nutritious varieties of target staples in processed foods.”

Also, Mrs Mercy Olorunfemi, Project Manager, under Strengthening Nutrition in Priority Staples Project (SNIPS), told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines that the rationale behind the event was to look at agriculture through the nutrition lens.

“Micronutrients deficiency is an issue. Lots of people did not have the right nutrient to operate as they should.

“Women, nursing mothers and children are at risk of this deficiency and that is why we are implementing this project, because we are strengthening nutrition in the priority stable foods that we consume,” Olorunfemi said.

Also, Mr Isaac Faniyi of the Bank of Agriculture, said the event was to let all the stakeholders know that the issues of food and nutrition security was a joint responsibility.

Faniyi said: “It must be a bottom up approach as everybody must be involved; government, private sector and individuals.”

Also, Mrs Atinuke Lebile, the Chief Executive Officer, Cato Foods, said that right from home the emphasis must be on nutritious food.

Lebile stressed the need to educate parents and farmers on the best ways to cultivate crops, because excess herbicides and pesticides would also affect what was cultivated.

The News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN) reports that Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) is implementing the Strengthening Nutrition in Priority Staples Project (SNIPS) in Nigeria in partnership with GIZ and the Green Innovation Centre for the Agricultural and Food Sector in Nigeria. (NAN)