By Chidinma Ewunonu-Aluko
Ibadan – Harvestplus, an international agricultural organisation, says the upcoming the 2019 Nutritious Food Fair (NFF) is aimed at tackling the malnutrition in the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 2019 NFF with the theme: Nutrition is Everyone’s Business will hold from Nov. 13 to Nov. 16, at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Oyo state.
Dr Paul Ilona, the Country Manager of Harvestplus disclosed at a news conference on Friday in Ibadan that the NFF was a commercial platform for promoting the breeding, production, marketing and consumption of nutritious foods in Nigeria.
Ilona said that the three-day annual event would bring together, stakeholders from the nutritious food sector including policy makers, researchers, farmers, food processors among others to showcase and market innovations.
He said that the event would provide a platform that would enable participants to share updates and discuss topical issues emerging in the nutritious food sector.
The country manager emphasised that the organisation’s mission was to develop and scale up the delivery of nutritious crops around the world.
According to him, this will ensure access for children and other individuals who needed them.
“The event will feature an online nutri-quiz platform for secondary school students to answer questions on nutrition, agriculture, mathematics and the sponsoring brand to spur the students’ interest to learn about nutrition and champions in it.
“It will also feature scientific presentations, exhibition, sales, business discussions, demonstrations (agronomy, post harvest, food quality and safety), entertainments, among others,” he said.
Ilona however emphasised that there was no relationship between bio- fortified crops and genetically modified crops, as bio-fortified crops “are products of conventional plant breeding with no invention of any foreign gene.’’
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural development, Mr Sabo Nanono, said one of the major objectives of the Federal Government was to reduce malnutrition to the barest minimum in the country.
Nanono, who was represented by the Director, Federal Department of Agriculture in the Ministry, Mr Frank Satumari urged government at all levels to intensify efforts in combating malnutrition in the country.
He also urged the private sectors and other stakeholders to join hands in combating the ugly trend.
Dr John Uruakpa, the Head, Micronutrient Deficiency, Federal Ministry of Health urged individuals to always eat adequate nutritious foods.
According to Uruakpa, this will ensure healthy living as well as avoid irreversible ailments caused by malnutrition.
Uruakpa said that the ministry embraced the idea of bio-fortification because of its numerous benefits.
“Right from the farms now, our staple crops are being bio-fortified as their nutrient contents are being improved upon.
“We encourage farmers to cultivate bio-fortified crops; vitamin A cassava, maize, sweet potato and others.
“This is because when we have enough quantities, we are sure of tackling malnutrition in our households which is a starting point,” he said.
Mrs Fadekemi Akande, the Oyo Programme Manager, Agriculture Development Programme, said the state partnered with Harvestplus to disseminate information on the importance of bio-fortified crops to farmers and stakeholders.
She urged citizens to key into the production and marketing of bio-fortified crops to create jobs and tackle malnutrition.
Earlier, the Deputy Director, IITA, Dr Ken Dashell said malnutrition was a global problem that could cause both severe physical and mental challenges for children.
“Stakeholders really need to think about the ways of addressing this menace of malnutrition, we need to work hard to educate the masses about nutrition and its importance,” he said.
NAN also reports that Harvestplus improves nutrition and public health by developing and promoting bio-fortified food crops that are rich in vitamins and minerals.
It provides global leadership on bio-fortification evidence and technology. (NAN)