The Aliko Dangote Foundation said it has earmarked about $50m to tackle the challenge of malnutrition in Nigeria and the African continent.
Speaking at a preview of the 4th Nutritious Food Fair (NFF), from the stable of HarvestPlus, scheduled for November 7-8, 2018 at the Landmark Event Center, Victoria Island, Lagos, Director, Health & Nutrition of the foundation, Francis Aminu, said his organisation is not only going to feed the world, but also going to nourish the world.
“Development and improved nutrition is germane, which is core to our foundation. As you are aware, nutrition is multi-sectoral, it’s everywhere and our foundation set up in 1994 is set up to address this indices.”
Communication & Knowledge Exchange Expert, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Godwin Atser, said Vitamin A remains a challenge in Nigeria and Africa at large. He said based on statistics, N450b is lost yearly in the country as a result of Vitamin A deficiency.
“By 2050, it is estimated that our population will double and if we do nothing, there is possibility we are going to have more malnourished children in the country.
“Most malnourished people are from rural areas where agriculture is their mainstay. If we have to address malnourishment, we need to restructure agriculture in the rural areas, we need to encourage people to cultivate bio-fortified crops and also consume them. We have to ensure that these people who live with less than $2 per day have access to nutritious foods, which HarvestPlus is doing. We all need to do a lot to promote consumption of bio-fortified crops.”
Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Lagos State Chapter, Otunba Femi Oke, advised all farmers and processors to add values to what they are producing, saying youths are gradually embracing the sector and adding value to it with innovations.
“We will circulate this gospel of nutrition to our people in the rural areas. We farmers want food to be on the table of everybody. Not just food, but bio-fortified foods.”
The Country Manager of HarvestPlus, Paul Ilona, said micronutrients malnutrition would lead to increased pressure on national health budgets and a weak labour force, which can be addressed with the adoption of bio-fortified crops.
He noted that nutrition is an essential building block for growth and development, adding that vitamin A is identified among the three micro nutrients by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as most lacking in diets globally.
The country manager stressed that the long term consequences of insufficient amounts of essential micronutrients in human diets are devastating, as it plays a crucial role in human development.
He added that its deficiency can cause birth defects, permanent physical and mental impairment, as well as increased risk of death, noting that maize crop serves as a key input in many manufacturing companies and the poultry industry.