The Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST) has called on governments and stakeholders in the agriculture and food processing sector to strive to improve the nation’s economy to ensure food security.
The Institute made the call at its ongoing 44th Conference and Annual General Meeting holding in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the theme of the event is, ‘Agro and Food Processing for Wealth Creation – The Nigerian Experience.’
The National Publicity Secretary, Dr Dola Adeboye said the event was aimed at food industries, researchers, academics, students, as well as food enthusiasts to discuss topical issues around food science, nutrition business and food security.
“We hope to share insight and experiences of different professionals as to how food processes can be structured and put together to generate sustainable wealth creation.
“Our target is for young people and fresh graduates to see food as an indispensable item that it truly is,” he said.
Mr Oluwole Toye, National President, NIFST said more attention should be given to food processing and production in order to create wealth and achieve food security in the nation.
“If we concentrate on the agro and food processing, definitely the economy of the nation can be improved and jobs, wealth can be created,”he said.
Toye noted that the curriculum for training food scientists was due for a review if Nigeria must align and be in sync with what the food industry and the nation needed to grow the economy.
In the same vein, the Group Managing Director, Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc., Mr Paul Gbededo said Nigeria had lost focus in agriculture – the most critical sector that guarantees food security and food safety – to crude oil, which led to lack of economic growth.
He, therefore, urged the government to provide enough budgetary funding for capital expenditure to enhance the capacity of the agricultural sector.
“Farming is not sustainable under commercial funding, that is critical to agriculture.
“If the World Food Organisation recommends that 25 per cent of budget be assigned to agriculture, why don’t we move closer or have it as a project to get there by 2030?
“That is one projection Nigeria can make to guarantee that agriculture remained at the forefront in providing jobs and making sure the economy is growing,” he said.
Gbededo also noted that linking agriculture to processing was important because exporting only agricultural produce, without adding value to it does not create wealth.
He recommended mechanised farming, fostering a synergy with raw materials sourced locally and industries that could produce funding, adequate infrastructure, human capital development, research and development as ways to bring the agricultural sector out of its present decline.
The Regional Director of Techno Serve, West Africa, Mr Larry Umunna said for the nation to achieve food security and safety, it was important for food industries to comply with regulations in order to improve the process and help them deal with their quantity assurance systems.
“With funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, we have a team in Nigeria that works closely with food industries, providing them with the right technical support.
“We help them ensure that these companies can actually produce adequately fortified food which is essential for Nigerians,”he said.
Umunna called for self-regulation of the food industries and for them to take responsibility and ownership for the quality of their process and products to make it easier for the regulatory agencies to carry out checks.
Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu