NIGERIA – The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has disclosed the determination of the Federal Government in solving the challenge of nutrition in Nigeria.
Dr. Adesina made the disclosure at a high level policy dialogue meeting on Nutrition –Sensitive Agriculture in Nigeria held in Abuja recently.
The minister, who expressed delight that the dialogue attracted several global leaders in the field of nutrition, development finance institutions and development partners across the world, stated that access to nutrition food should be seen as a fundamental human right that all societies most ensure.
Adesina maintained that investment in nutrition is investing in the economy, adding that the greatest contributor to economic growth is not physical infrastructure but brain power, which he referred to as “grey matter infrastructure”.
The minister maintained that for Africa to succeed in lifting millions out of poverty and create a model of shared prosperity, it must focus on transforming agriculture. According to him, to address the challenge of malnutrition and stunting in Africa, there is an urgent need for Africa to produce more of its own food.
Dr. Adesina stated that Nigeria still has 37% of under -5 children that are stunted, claiming regional disparities exist with malnutrition and stunting. He said greater efforts are needed to drastically reduce the high levels of stunting.
The minister declared that access to food is important, but admitted that factors like low incomes, lack of access to clean water, sanitation and deworming and unbalanced diets worsen malnutrition and stunting, hence the need for an integrated approach and close partnerships across ministries of Agriculture, Health, Education and Women Affairs to solve the challenge of malnutrition.
Dr. Adesina assured Nigerians that government would not only produce more food but a lot more nutrition food and expand access to nutritious food to children. According to him, 80 million Nigerians would have access to bio-fortified cassava, maize and orange flesh sweet potatoes within the next four years.
The Minister revealed that Nigeria is partnering with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) to deliver through mobile phones, Micronutrient Power (MNP) to 10million children under the age of five in Nigeria. He however frowned at the situation where 90% of high –energy foods distributed in Africa are imported.
Dr. Adesina stated that the goal of government is for Nigeria to become the largest producer of high-energy foods in Africa. He said, “We have the solutions in our hands and a huge opportunity to build a stronger partnership with Africa’s agribusiness sector to solve Africa’s malnutrition challenge.”