NIFST tasks government on food industry development

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Lagos  – The Nigerian Institute for Food Science and Technology (NIFST) has urged the National Assembly to pass the bill to establish the Nigerian Council for Food Science and Technology (NCFST).
It made the appeal in a communiqué issued at the end of its 39th Conference and Annual General Meeting in Owerri, a copy of which was made available to newsmen in Lagos on Monday.
The conference, with the theme “Industrialisation; A pathway to Agrobusiness Transformation,’’ was attended by over 500 delegates from the academia, food producing industry, private and public organisations and foreign countries.
The institute, in the communiqué, said that the bill, if passed, would help in sanitising the industry as a lot of handlers lack appropriate knowledge of food and its handling.
It, however, appreciated the current efforts at inclusion of basic food hygiene and nutrition in Teachers Education Curriculum.
The institute, in the communiqué, recommended that government should establish Food Scientific Officer cadre at state and local government levels to promote research findings.
It said that the continuous denial of charter status to Food Science and Technology professionals was a great impediment to ensuring food security and safety.
“The optimal welfare of the citizenry can only be accomplished through a charter for food professionals.
“Government should facilitate rapid and adequate supply of electric power, pay closer attention to road and transportation problems for continuous growth of food industrialisation.
“The problems of inadequate electricity supply, deplorable road conditions and poor transportation facilities remain great challenge to solving the problem of food sufficiency,’’ it said.
According to the communiqué, the average budget of less than 3.8 per cent for agriculture, food production and challenging land tenure are hindering small and medium enterprises in agriculture.
It said that the current diversification in the use of High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) was a welcome development in the quest for food sufficiency, job and wealth creation.
“Government should be consistent in its policy on cassava inclusion as it had been partly responsible for the seemingly low investment on HQCF processing.

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“NIFST is displeased with the poor implementation of government policies towards food industrialisation which made Nigeria to remain in stage one of development according to the recent UN rating.
“To aid the development of food industry, government should look into the high interest charged on loans, unfavourable government policies on taxes, levies, import and export regulations.
“The uncompetitive prices of locally produced goods, with all these charges, affect the sustainability of local food entrepreneurship,’’ it said. (NAN)

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