The Federal Government has reiterated its efforts towards improving the consumption of micronutrients in staple foods especially among the vulnerable population through partnership with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, (GAIN).
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Muhammed Abubakar, made the statement during the official launch of the Strengthening Nutrition in Priority Staples’ project being implemented by GAIN across selected states in Nigeria.
The Minister said the project will also improve food security and nutrition through improved diet particularly among the rural populace which is the among the most vulnerable in the country.
Represented by the Mrs. Omotayo Agbani, Abubakar said “The aim of the launch of this project today is aimed at strengthening priority value chains in improving food and nutrition security through improved diet among key factors in the food value chain by focusing on some priority crops such as maize, cassava, rice and orange fleshed sweet potato and iron rich beans among others.”
The Executive Director, GAIN, Lawrence Hadad, said staple foods are the key source of micronutrients and although they may not be as dense as in others, they can be easily improved upon so that the poor can benefit and be protected from malnutrition as a result of the lack of micronutrients.
His words: “We already have vitamin A maize and vitamin A cassava and we want to get those into the markets or food systems more broadly so that more people can consume them. We also want to introduce additional staples like orange fleshed sweet potato which has a really good track record in Africa for delivering for farmers and delivering for nutrition of consumers.”
He however, warned that if farmers who are in the frontline of food production are malnourished themselves, “then we are in real trouble because the food system is underperforming and if stressed enough, it will collapse.”
Advisor for the German federal ministry for economic cooperation, Hendrix Denker, noted that “the project has contributed to meaningful transformation of the food system in Nigeria and it has also become a learning case for other countries including Germany because we all need to build on the transformation of our food systems.”
Also, Country Director, GAIN, Nigeria, Dr. Michael Ojo, said the project will give priority to women and mothers because nearly 60 percent women suffer from anemia and a lot of them are farmers.