30% Nigerian Children Are Malnourished – FG | Independent Newspapers Limited
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30% Nigerian Children Are Malnourished – FG

Posted: Nov 8, 2015 at 6:06 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Chibuzor Emejor
Federal Government said from the statistics available that about 30per cent of Nigerian children and 20 per cent of pregnant women in the country are malnourished.
The Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sonny Echono, announced this at the International  Nutritious Food Fair which took place at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Station, Kubwa, Abuja.
He restated the plan of the government in mainstreaming nutrition into agriculture using bio-fortification, home fortification and large and medium scale fortification in a value chain approach.
He said the present administration views bio-fortification as complementary to dietary enrichment and has therefore embraced a broad and comprehensive food systems approach to address malnutrition.
He said, “We easily visualise how food fortification fits into broader agribusiness model to make nutritious food available, accessible and affordable to enable us provide diverse foods and make more foods more nutritious”.
Echono explained that after a full decade of promoting large scale fortification, it should equally be of importance to optimise industry compliance to expected food fortification standards.
According to him, the bio fortified crops currently promoted  include the Vitamin A rich cassava and orange flesh sweet potatoes.
The Permanent Secretary said Nigeria’s agricultural sector’s vision is to achieve a hunger-free country through an agricultural sector that drives an all inclusive income growth, accelerates achievement  of food and nutritional security, generates employment and transforms Nigeria into a leading player in global food markets to grow wealth for millions of farmers.
To achieve this, he said the government has embarked on a comprehensive review and resuscitation plan that revolves around unlocking the potentials of agriculture through a total value chain to enable the private sector leadership grow food, create jobs and wealth, as well as improve nutrition.
He said Muhammadu Buhari administration sees agriculture beyond the food production domain, but also through food processing, as well as trade and markets, consumer awareness and demand stimulation.
He said, through malnutrition especially inadequate mineral and vitamins to women and children; posed a major challenge to the health of citizens, saying available statistics have revealed that 30% of our children and 20% of pregnant women are malnourished; a situation he said was not acceptable.
He therefore emphasised the need to develop and multiply more production nutrient rich crops and scale up bio-fortification research through research institutes like IITA and Nutritional Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI).
According to him, poor eating habits posed significant barriers to improving nutrition and therefore pledged the commitment of government to working with partners to build knowledge, provide accurate information, build evidence based key initiatives, educate and drive behavioral change for improved nutrition.
The Permanent Secretary also revealed government plan to review and prioritise the strategic plan for Transformative Partnership for High Energy Nutritious Food for Africa, saying the plan would ensure the sustainable consumption of high energy nutritious food to address a range of nutrition needs in Nigeria and Africa.
He added that the present administration was pursuing the Staple Crop Processing Zones (SCPZs) concept that supports key industries and private sector stakeholders, saying it would promote agro processing and industrialization by locating their factories in major food production hubs to promote value chain efficiencies.
Earlier in the remarks of Howarth Bouis,  a Director with Harvestplus, mineral and vitamin content should be included in crops so that people immune system would not be compromised.
Bouis explained that the global programme has made more progress in Nigeria than any other, saying almost 100 varieties have been released in countries across the world.
Also, the country manager, Harvestplus Nigeria, Paul Ilona, stated that six varieties of bio fortified cassava have been developed and distributed between IITA and NRCRI, while Harvestplus with 20 partners in Nigeria and Africa have been working together and have reached out to over one million farmers.
He said two states in Nigeria, Anambra and Delta are currently financing bio-fortification programme.