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By Tope Templer Olaiya

VERNMENT has been called upon to nact policies on food and nutrition that are responsive and people-friendly_ This

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call came during a nutrition seminar orgafl-

ised recently in lagos_ Food insecurity and lack of access to basic health services were identified as the major factors causing high level of malnutrition in Nigeria, espeCIally among women and children who are the most vufnerable. The nutrition seminar was organised by AlItech Nutrients Limited, in coliaDoration with the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH), United States Department of Agricu lture (USDA) and the United States Dry Bean Council to proffer solution to the state of nutrition in the country. Stakeholders at the event include nutritionists, bakers, media and various organisations, who examined the possibility of soy in reducing the 60 percent child mortality due to malnourishment, and achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Soybean and soy products, the experts said, contain adequate nutrients such as proteine nergy, fats. vitamins and other micro-nutri-

ents -that can combat cases of poor growth manifested in stunting (height for weight); wasting (weight for height) or under-weight (age for weig ht) constrasts. Tne seminar, titled "High QualityProteins:The Missing Link in Development," demonstrated th e link between malnutrition and economic growth, especially in children. The training provided facts on the importance of high quality proteins in reducing malnutrition. It also gave participants the opportunity to seek answe r to why peop le focus m ore on other nutrients like carbohyd rates, fat and

Good Nutrition Can Spur EconOlllic Growth, Say Scientists choice and why the younger generations are uninterested about agriculture, "and how this matter of serious concern could be addressed to forestall a future food crisis in the country." The Regional Agricultural Counselor of the United States Department of Agriculture, lagos, Mr. Russ Nicely, noted that Nigerian films are showing up everywhere on the continent and across the world. He said similar'efforts could be invested into agriculture. "If we make half the effort to push out agricultural products, they, will be everywhere just as Noll)'Wood films. ' His view was corroborated by the Consul-General of the United States Embassy in Lagos, Joseph Stafford, who said US is focusing on

agricultural development around the world as a key to improving nutrition, as well as unlocking the economic potential of developing coun-

tries.

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In an overview of the nutrition status of Nigerians, nutrition specialist with UNICEF, Abuja, Dr. Davis Omotola, said the government must be ready to address the persistent problem of malnutrition if the country seeks to achieve the MDGsland4 . According to Omotola, "malnutrition contributes to over 40 per cent of under-five mortality in Nigeria and this is not only caused by the absence of food but also the environment and regular de-worming of the child. The first two years of life is very important to addreSSing

growth retardation in the child." He lamented the high incidence of malnutrition in children in the northern part of the country. Co-partners of the conference, W1SHH said three forces influence their intervention in the country-more people, more demand for soy protein and more buying power in developing countries.

According to Anita Florido of W1SHH, "the world's population will likely reach 9.2 billion by 2050 with virtually all new growth occur'fing in the developing world. To feed these peopl.!<;global food production must doubl e. Meanwhile, the available land to feed the world population is scarce and two-third of available land is located across only 13 developing countries." "Also," she continued, "the potential appetite for protein is projected to increase by 75 per cent by 2025 according to the National Soybean Research Laboratory." She emphaSised that"developingcountries are the big drivers for this protein demand as their populations and income levels grow." Accoraing to her, "soy protein has an important role in food industry growth that can iml'wve nutrition and fuel economic progress, as more than one-third of child deaths are du e to maternal and child under-nutrition."

micro nu trients at the expense of proteins.

Speaking at the forum, Manager, Group Resea rch, Flour Mills Nigeria, Augustine Okoruwa, advised the federal government to formulate a food and nutrition policy. He identitled poverty as a major ca use or malnutrition. The nutritionist established the importance of protein-rich food as good nutrition was critical to physical and mental development "Children,' he sa id, "must always consume foods rich in protein as it is very essential that they grow and develop well." Okoruwa, who deplored the low leve l of production of protein-rich food in the country, urged farm ers to embark on cultivation of food s with protein. Accordingto him, production of such foods as soybean, cowpea, groundnut, beans, fish, eggs, milk, meat, cheese and crustacea ns will improve peopl es' access 'to diets with protein. "Foods that are rich in protein should be produced locally so that Nigerians can easily get them," he stressed. Chairman of the occasion and Dean, College of Food Sciences at Bell University oflOchnology, Ota, Pwf. Gbenga Ogunmoyela, in his opening remarks, wondered why fewer studen ts are seeking admission imo the uni versities to study agriculture as a course of first

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Dr, Phil Ofulue (left) representing SIFAX Group of companies, Dr. Sunny Ojeagbase, Mrs. Madu and Mr. Obiora Madu during the public presentation of three titles of books on export and import business, at the hall of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Yaba, 011 Thursday. PHOTO: OLUKAYODE OYELEYE

Trainers, Trainees Say Bamboo Technology Diversifies Rural Agricultural Income By Yemi OJakil.n

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ROJECT expected to exploit hitherto neglected forest reources has been presented to a crop of beneficiaries. The National Programme for Food Sec.urity(NPFS) through South-South Cooperation (SSC) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Nat, ural Resources recently organised a five-day training programme for Nigerian farmers.

The "training and demonstration workshop on bamboo cultivation and utilisation, highlighting Chinese experience, was the second in the series of training programme under

the Regional Multi-Service Extension Centre (REMSEC). Activities in REMSEC are m eant to extend cutting edge Chinese technologies in agricu ltu re to Nigerian farmers. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations and governments of Nigeria and the Peoples' Republic of China in 2009 jointly signed a tripartite agreement for the second phase of th e NigeriaChina, Sooth-South Cooperation (SSC) programme. This followed the reported impressive successes du ring the first phase, implemented from 2003-2009. The second phase involves the deployment of a total of 180 Chinese experts and technicians in various

lields of agriculture, to be imple· ~·-'·mented over a period of five years in all the 37 states and FCT through the Agricultural Development Programme (ADPs) in the states and in

the six selected colleges of agriculture in their capacities as REMSECs. The concept of REMSEC, it was gathered, refers to an efficient Strategy for achieving national programme cov-

erage through the establishment of special incubation centres of Chinese technologies, using Chinese experts and technicians for training and demonstration of simple and adaptab le Chinese farm technologi es to Nigerian farmers and entrepreneurs. Desk officer of the programme, Dr. Adeola Odedina said one of the objectives of the programme was to transfer a simple, adaptable and least-cost farming technologies in all

sub-sectors of agriculture to Nigerian farmers to enhance their productivityand income levels. The programme also was also described as aiming at developing technological innovations in the design, construction and utilisation of micro-earth dams and other water control structure such as dykes, ponds to provide affordable potable water supply to our rural communities, and support small-scale irrigationand animal husbandry. Six participants were drawn from each of the six south-west states and they include potential ba mboo farmers, unemployed youths, agri-

cultural extension agents and agro forestry facilitators from ADPs. Mrs. Ogunneye Oluwaseun, a participant from Lagos State, showed appreciation, commending the programme organisers for the opportunity to attend the training. Anotner participant, Mr. Adebomi Joseph from Ondo State, said the bamboo technology could serve as a source of empowerment for the communities and also generate employments for youths. Alhaj i G.N. Bello, national coordinator of the South-South Cooperation Programme, representing Alhaji Bukar Tijani of NPFS, said the

programme targeted prin cipally the small scale farmers in view of their contribution towards the nations' efforts towards national food security, contributing over 90% of total food and fibre production in Nigeria. He advised the participating states to ensure wider spread of the technology with further technical assistance from REMSEC centre in the Federal College of Agriculture, Alrure. The Provost of the College, Dr. M. O. Ogunkoya, in her address, informed the panicipants thattheir interest in the training would boost their income and ,by extension, the national economy.

Farmers Record Higher Yields Of Cassava

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IGERIAN farmers have more than doubled ticipated in the project have observe!! increases peeted to give Nigeria a positive outlook forcassava , their previous yields of cassava. This waS at- in ,casSava yields.ln2009, the (do community be- production. The tilcrease in yield has led to calls for tributed to the 'Unleashing the Power of came a beneficiary of the IITA-UPoCA project increased processing machines in the Ido commuCassava in Africa' (UPoCA) project thalis .imllie. which was r·art.of the United States Agency for In- nity, to Which the British American Tobacco Nigeria mented by the International Institute of TroplCa! temationa Development's response to cushion Foundation (BATNF) has with the donation of a casthe effect of the 2008 food crisis that resulted in sava processing centre. Agriculture (IITA), with headquarters at Ihadan. '.. . Benjamin Isola, Oribiyi II, the Onido of Ida, narThe institute reported that farmers in ldo com- dots in some parts oftheworld. munityinOyostateassayingtllatyieids rose from The report added that, apart. from Jdo in Oyo rated how "this processing centre came to us bean average arlO tons per hectare to more than 20 state, other states that benefited from the project cause of the intervention of IITA-UPoCA which led tons per hectare. "With local varieties,-I used to were Osun, ondo, Ekiti; Kogi, Nasarawa, and to increased cassava production in our commuharvest 10 tons pet hectare but now, It is more Benue.Beneficiary farmers said the project has nity." than 20 tons per hectare," ssid Bashir Adesiyan" served as' a boost to the production of cassava as ' He sald "the project has also benefited individual chainnan of the local chapter of the Nigerian Cas- _ improved qlssavastems have promoted food se- members of this community and, we are happy." sava Growers Association. curtty and helped further in wealth generation. The community leader called on the state and fedAccording toAdesiyan,"duringthe harvest period, !)r.RichardsonOkeclmkwu,deputymanagerfor era! goVernment to establish more cassava proother farmers accused, -me of applying juju (su: ilTA-UPoCA;described the success in Ido commu· cessiilgcentres in the community. pematural or magical powers).on the fann but I hity as, a replica .o f what has 'happened to the The report disclosed that lITA-UPoCA is upgrading told them it was the improved caSsava Stems and 'other states where the pro}e~was implemented. the equipment donated to the community by the tr.lirting I gotftotn IITAthatmademy fannhetter."rhe 1ffi\_UPoCA woject S su'c~ess artdthe last , BATNF for greater efficiency. Okechukwu said the Severa! otherfannels in the comrnunitythat par·' year's release of new inlproved varieties are eJi:, projectwillgive the fanners the necessary support_

THE GUARDIAN, 3 April, 2011  
THE GUARDIAN, 3 April, 2011  

Farmes Record Higher Yields of Cassava due to the 'Unleashing the power of Cassava in Africa(UPoCA) project that is implemented by IITA

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