NIGERIA – Nigerian state government, Kano has entered into an agreement with Islamic Development Bank (IDB) for the implementation of an agricultural intervention worth US$3.23 million.

The project according to Vanguard, will be undertaken by Kano State Agro-Pastoral Development Project (KSACP) and the Kano Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (KNARDA).

IDB will provide US$2.23million under the initiative while the state government will provide US$1million as counterpart contribution.

It is targeting 100,000 small-holder legume farmers across the 44 local government areas of the state, with the scheme set to run for over five years, beginning from the 2020/2021 planting season.

The aim of the intervention is to equip smallholder farmers, extension agents, agro-processors and post-harvest handling service providers with knowledge and skills on improved production, post-harvest and agro-processing practices and technologies, as well as creating effective input and output market linkages.

“Through the agreement, KSADP will finance KNARDA annually, upon submission of its annual work-plan and budget which will be cleared by the State Ministry of Agriculture, the KSADP, and approved by the Islamic Development Bank,” Project Communication Specialist, Ameen Yassar, said.

With the state focusing on legume farming which is a source of protein it aligns with the country’s nutritional experts’ recent call of alleviating protein deficiency with a nutrition policy.

According to the National Demographic Health Survey 2018 (NDHS) and the Nigerian Protein Deficiency Report 2019, the attitudes and meal behaviours of Nigerians are tilted towards consumption of carbohydrate loaded diets with less regard to protein.

Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2017, indicates that the cases of underweight in Nigeria increased from 25% to 32% and stunted growth from 34.5% to 43.6% between 2007 – 2016. During the period there was no change in wasting with the national prevalence among children under-five years remaining at an average of 10.8%.

To curb the menace, Dr. Adepeju Adeniran, a clinician physician and public expert argues that a protein-centred national nutrition policy is imperative to reduce the level of protein deficiency in the nation.

On the other hand, Dr. Beatrice Oganah-Ikujenyo, a seasoned nutritionist and teacher, highlights that there are several barriers that can hinder effective implementation of a protein centred nutrition policy.

She holds the view that nutrition has always been viewed as a multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary issue, which has been combined with agriculture, health, science, commerce and industry, instead of as a stand-alone discipline or subject.

To this end she suggests the establishment of a Ministry of Food and Nutrition headed by a nutritionist to aid the implementation of nutrition policies.

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