Nigeria’s ministry of agriculture is willing and ready to collaborate with relevant agencies and organisations to end malnutrition particularly amongst children.
The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Heineken Lokpobiri said this at a one day sensitisation workshop on biofortfication of staple food crops in Abuja. It was organised by the International Potato Centre in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Mr. Lokpobiri says “fortifying food crops with nutrients will boost acceptability of Nigeria’s Agro products in the international market.
“We can only export what is certified to be nutritious by the rest of the world, some of the agro products are not accepted by the world because when they are subjected to test they have no nutrients… That is why I’m happy that now from the point of planting, all the relevant micro-nutrients are put into the seeds so that they grow with all the nutrients that are needed for us to be healthy.
Also speaking at the event, the Country Director of the International Potato Center, Dr. Olapeju Phorbee said biofortification was adding nutrients to all ready known staples foods.
“Biofortification is a simple way of saying we are adding nutrients to our already known staple, we are deliberately adding missing micro-nutrients and missing minerals and vitamins to our food, using our conventional agronomy practice,” he stated.
According to her, biofortication of staple crops with minerals and vitamins such as zinc, vitamin A, caronoids and iron will help fight malnutrition in Nigeria.
“We know that iron, zinc and vitamin A deficiency is rampant in the country which is affecting our children and women, especially those of the reproductive age… That is why we are coming up with the approach to improve in our staples foods like cassava, potato, maize and Sorghum, ” she explained.
Caroline Donko who spoke on behalf of Potato and Cassava farmers and processors, said the biofortified food were not just for healthy eating but Nigerians could make money from producing and processing.
“I never knew I will count a million Naira in my Life but today I’m making good money from biofortified crops,” she stressed.
She said if Nigerians in the rural areas could be educated to eat biofortified foods, there would tremendous improvements on their health.
Mrs. Donko further called on the Government to support the process as it change malnutrition situation and also create jobs for the teeming youth in Nigeria .