Abuja (Sundiata Post) – Federal government has described as embarrassing that 30 percent of Nigerian children are malnourished as a result of poor concentration of essential nutrients in most of staple food commonly consumed in the country.
As a result, it has has endorsed bio-fortified food, urging farmers to adopt it in their farming activities to enable Nigeria food have high concentration of desired nutrients.
Minister of State for Agriculture, Heineken Lokpobiri said this on Friday at a sensitisation Programme on fortified crops held in Abuja that government is now leading the campaign for bio-fortified food because of rising concern of poor nutrients in most of our staple food in the country.
According to the Minister, “It is embarrasing to note that Nigeria has up to 30 percent of children that are mal-nourished. We are grateful to International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics-ICRISAT, the International Potato Centre, Institute of International Tropical Agriculture, IITA for coming up with varieties with particularly high concentration of desired nutrients”
We must endeavour to eat well. Have you ever wondered why the Japanese live longer? Japanese and the Chinese live longer because of the kind of food they eat, because of right eating habit. While in our own case, someone who is just 40 is already down with high blood pressure” Heineken noted.
The staple food in focus are: Orange flesh sweet Potato, Yellow Cassava, Orange Maize, Iron and Zinc in Sorghum and Millet and Vitamin A in our Cassava.
Speaking further on the health importance of bio-fortified food Olapeju Phorbee, the Country Director for International Potato centre said, “We want the Present administration to scale up the support of bio-fortified, because it it would help our children to eat healthily even when they eat only the staple food like cassava, rice, potato, because they are fortified with desired nutrients”
The sensitisation is to get the buying in of the government in policy inclusion, so that stakeholders could have confidence to go in and even commercialise it for healthier feeding of our people the country director said.
Notably, Nigeria Posts one of the worst records of malnourished children across the country with the United Nation’s International Children Emergency Fund, UNICEF currently putting the figure at over 2.5 million children, which has made the call for bio-fortified food more urgent than ever, because of huge cases of malnourishment in the country.
It would be noted that biofortification entails application of minerals such as zinc or iron as foliar or soil applications, drawing on plant management, soil factors, and plant characteristics to get enhanced content of key micro-nutrients into the edible portion of plant.