NIGERIA – Coca-Cola Nigeria and other stakeholders in the food and beverage industry have agreed to advocate for research and development in the sectors for sustainable economic development in Nigeria, reports ThisDay Live.

This was agreed by stakeholders from both the public and private sectors attending the 42nd annual conference organised by Nigerian Institute of Food, Science and Technology (NIFST) in Abeokuta, Nigeria.

The panel discussion emphasized on the need for the government agencies, academia and food and beverage industries to heavily invest in economic growth in Nigeria.

The stakeholders said such collaborations are likely to make the country competitive on the global market.

Speaking on the topic ‘Research Collaboration and Industry Linkages: A Sustained Partnership’, the guest speaker Professor Babatunde Oguntona, a food and nutrition consultant hailed Coca-Cola’s commitment to research work, urging other corporate organisations, universities to emphasize on research and development.

According to him, global statistics on investment show that countries with highest level of commitment enjoy commensurate development economically, that Nigeria lags behind due to little emphasis on research.

Director, Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, Coca-Cola Nigeria, Fred Chiazor said the industry was willing and ready to go into partnership with other industry stakeholders in research with a view to engender economic development for the country.

“Coca-Cola Nigeria believes in the power of partnership for sustainable economic growth of the food value chain in Nigeria.

This linkage amongst University, Regulatory Industry remains critical for stimulating sustainable economic growth through the evolution of food value chain and innovation.

“The collaboration amongst these cardinal sectors promotes shared insights on global best practices and standards which ultimately drives inclusive growth across the spectrum of food value chain.

“Industry is willing to commit more to the growth of research in Nigeria and its outcome, where this linkage is established and within an enabling regulatory environment.”

It was identified that collaborations should not only include funding, but also contributions in knowledge transfer and input from academia.

Director of Food Safety and Nutrition, NAFDAC, Mr. Sheriff Olagunju however indicated that stakeholders should bear in mind regulatory requirements before embarking on research.