Professor (Mrs) Gloria Nwakaegho Elemo has called on government to take serious steps toward guaranteeing food security in Nigeria to enable Nigerians have easy access to food.
Prof Elemo who was the former Director General of Nigeria Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO), Oshodi, Lagos, while dealevering the 19th, Inaugural lecture of Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, Oyo State said it is high time Nigerians are able to provide bread for themselves without having to go through stress.
The former FIIRO boss whose lecture was titled ” let there be bread; the struggle in achieving food and nutrition security in Nigeria” noted that Nigeria has all it takes to provide bread for it citizens without much stress if all hands are on deck.
She stressed the importance of bread to man, adding that the cassava for bread her former institute FIIRO champion about a decade ago was borne out of the importance of bread to man, adding that it is sad that many Nigerians still go to bed in empty stomach due to their inability to afford bread or any other food stuffs.
” Bread is one of the oldest foods produced in the world. Historical records show the importance of bread in agriculture. In religious context, bread is regarded as sustenance of life and thus it has since become a symbol of needs; food included.
” To have bread everyday in Nigeria for at least about 10 per cent of the population has been a struggle for a long time in now . Nigeria has a landmass spanning over 924,000km, with about 40 per cent of arable land being cultivated. This is a huge economic agriculture potential, however, agriculture, which has been a major contributor to the Nigeria economy has not been able to solve the problem of food insecurity and malnutrition, ” she lamented.
The egghead disclosed that according to the State of food security and nutrition in the word report of 2018 stated that 11.5 per cent of the Nigerian population are undernourished while 24.8 percent of the total Nigerian population are severely food insecure.
The Don blamed inadequate investment in agriculture, poor implemented agricultural policies and plans, adding that inadequate financial support for subsistence level farmers, high cost of farm inputs, poor storage facilities, poor market access and market inefficiency , the insurgency in the North , adverse clamatic condition and poor food processing are some of the factors why the country find itself in this situation.
She stressed that there is quite a lot of evidence that shows that addressing food insecurity especially through improvement in agriculture do not necessarily translate to a reduction in malnutrition.
Elemo gave her own contribution to achieve food and nutrition security in Nigeria thus.” An aspect of food and nutrition security I focused on early in my research was looking at nutrition intake and nutrient requirements. Adequate nutrient or food intake is very important for maintaining a healthy life, “.
She noted that for dietary intake to be adequate, it must meet the need of the human body, adding that there was the need to critically look at nutrient requirements for Nigerians.
The former FIIRO boss called for food processing and preservation to enable Nigeria address food security, adding that the country must embrace science and technology to food development to reduce post – harvest losses, increase the shelf life of products and help increase the chances of access to adequate food and bioavailabilty.