Foodie Naija Update, Foodie Naija Updates, Foodie Naja Update, Foodie Update

FOODIE UPDATE (Ethiopia denies emergency food aid will run out within weeks)

Ethiopia has denied suggestions by UN officials that it will run out of emergency food aid for millions of people by the end of this month.

The UN’s World Food Programme said 7.8 million people affected by drought would be left without food assistance.

But Ethiopian officials put the number of those affected at 1.7 million and said they would receive new help either from donors or the government.

Ethiopia has been struggling following successive failed rains.

Famine has been declared in South Sudan, and there have been warnings of famine in north-east Nigeria, Yemen and Somalia.

Ethiopia’s commissioner for disaster risk management Mitiku Kassa said: “It’s true that in some areas food will run out by the end of the month but this will only affect around 1.7 million people.

“We expect the donor community to step in to fill that gap and we are hopeful. But if they fail to do that, we will have to use some of our development budget to provide emergency assistance to our people.”

  • Can Ethiopia cope with worst drought in decades?

Earlier reports suggested that the Ethiopian government did not have the funds to cope by itself, although analysts have acknowledged it has got better at coping with droughts than in previous years.

The government allocated $381m (£300m) extra over the last two years, but aid experts have questioned whether this can be sustained for a third year.

Ethiopia is in a “dire situation”, according to John Aylieff of the World Food Programme.

“We’ve got food running out nationally at the end of June,” he told reporters on Friday.

“That means the 7.8 million people who are in need of humanitarian food assistance in Ethiopia will see that distribution cut abruptly at the end of June.”

His words were echoed by John Graham, of Save the Children

He told AFP news agency: “After [the food runs out], we don’t know what is going to happen. And without that basic food then you will have problem falling into severe malnutrition because people are not getting any food.

“These children become severely malnourished and that’s where you have a very dangerous situation.

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Foodie Naija Update

FOODIE NAIJA UPDATE (Try good nutrition to enhance your life)

It is the considered opinion that people must re-evaluate and strive to improve their knowledge nutrition with a view to ultimately improving their health and attaining the goal of a long and healthy life.

If you value life, longevity and cherish living a productive adult life it is incumbent upon you to learn the basic nutritional tips with a view to enhancing your lifestyle. The reason for this is not far -fetched because experts in nutrition, dietetics and food safety are unanimous on the functionality of food which we savour and enjoy without qualms. The experts advise that your dietary choices must be designed to nourish and sustain your body if you must avert illness.

According to the Head of Nutrition and Dietetics, National Hospital Abuja, Mrs Sarah Abagai, people engaging in unwholesome dietary practices are simply waging war against their own health, and poor dietary habits of many people have resulted in disease conditions they are not even aware of. She went further to say that a lot of people hardly realize the harm they are doing to themselves for failing to get useful and practical information on concise and culturally relevant nutritional information.

She added that food is the source of all that sustains or shortens life, depending on its contents and that it takes awareness for people in both urban and rural areas to develop and practice healthy eating habits.

Bothered about the wide gap that exists in the flow of nutritional information that Nigerians can relate to, for its accessibility and affordability she has picked up the gauntlet to champion the spread of necessary and relevant nutritional information in the light of her interactions with the public. This, she has done admirably by writing a 226-page book on the basic concepts of healthy nutrition so as to reveal the secrets of eating to live in an ever dynamic society such as Nigeria. Nigerians have the opportunity to read through a relevant literature on nutrition and dietetics so as to be able to live “physically vigorous, mentally and emotionally healthy long lives. The timeliness of such a literature on nutrition and dietetics cannot be over emphasized  in view the current challenges  of living that raise the  surge in the quest for practical and useful information on nutrition  considering the fact that  Nigeria has more than a fair share of  epidemic of lifestyle diseases the world over.

Experts say that the physical activities people tend to avoid nowadays   are essential to the overall healthy living apart from the lifestyle enhancing foods that abound locally. A specialist in diabetes and the Medical Director of Wuse General Hospital, Dr Bashir Mijinyawa pointed out that the right eating habits are far much better than going to gym and fitness centers in the management and control of diabetes. In other words, what people eat must be life-enhancing  even if they are interested in taking their physical exercises.

 

Foodie Naija Update

Inflation: Mixed outlook as food prices remain high

AGAINST the backdrop of deceleration of inflationary pressures announced by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, last week, further insight into price movements in the first quarter of the year has indicated a mixed result.

Financial Vanguard and other analysts’ reports indicate that the deceleration was principally a year-on-year, YoY, base effect rather than a decline in prices, especially in food and related items in the market.
The NBS report for March 2017 had indicated that inflation rate slowed further to 17.26 per cent YoY in March from 17.87 per cent YoY in February.
Giving a Month-on-Month, MoM, analysis of the parameters, economists at Cardinal Stone Partners Limited, a Lagos based investment house, stated: ‘‘The relatively slower pace of increase in YoY headline CPI (Consumer Price Index) primarily reflects the impact of base effects given the significant jump in the index in the corresponding period of 2016.
‘‘On a month-on-month basis however, headline inflation accelerated to 1.72 per cent MoM against February level of 1.49 per cent MoM, as both the food and core sub-indices increased in March.

‘‘We believe the drag from higher staple food prices is the direct result of higher export demand (given the significant depreciation in the Naira) as well as higher transport costs ( a major component of the core index).’’
Contrary to inflation reports showing declines for two consecutive months this year (February and March) the petroleum products price watch released by NBS last weekend shows that huge gap still exists between average price of the products in the first quarter 2017 (Q1’17) and preceding quarter, Q4’16.
In the report average price of Kerosene in Q1’17 was N365.94 per litre, about 35 per cent higher than N269.15 recorded in the preceding quarter. Also average price of 5kg cooking gas at N2,589.84 was about 28.8 per cent higher than N2,010.6 recorded in the preceding quarter.
Regulated price of petrol
Similarly the report shows that average price of diesel in Q1’17 at N241.5 per litre was 25.1 per cent higher than N193.1 recorded in Q4’16 while the regulated price of petrol still commanded about 2.0 per cent higher pump price at national average of N149.3 per litre in Q1’17 as against N146.4 previous quarter. Moreover, prices of basic food items have steadily been on the increase up till March 2017 going by NBS reports of Selected Food Prices Watch released at the weekend.
Economists raise concerns
Reflecting on last week’s CPI figures of the NBS, economists at Cordros Capital Limited, another Lagos based investment house, stated: ‘‘Given the faster increase in MoM inflation, we reiterate our position that the possibility of general price level significantly moderating this year remains uncertain, as the causal structural factors that pressured general prices in 2016 remain through the most of this year.

‘‘More so, it appears that the peak of cost push inflation had been attained in 2016, thus strengthening the case for slower price increases this year.
‘‘Driven by this matrix of facts, we prognosticate the headline index to sustain the base-effect driven moderation in the month of April, particularly in the absence of new FX-induced shocks and other related negative surprises, such as fuel and power tariff hikes. ‘‘However, we are concerned about the higher-than-expected MoM increase in inflation experienced in the last two months, which has constrained significant YoY moderation.
‘‘Potential risk in this regard is the likely rise in the average pump price of petrol following the recent increase in the bridging allowance to transporters from N6.20 to N7.20 per litre, especially among independent operators outside major commercial cities where regulatory supervision is limited.
‘‘For April, we estimate the CPI to further moderate by 36 basis points (bps) to 16.9%.’’
Also commenting on the NBS figures, analysts at Cardinal Stone Partners stated: ‘‘Base effects led the slight decline in YoY food inflation in March to 18.44% YoY (February: 18.53% YoY) since domestic food prices continued on an uptrend in March, increasing to a ten month high of 2.21% MoM (February: 1.99% MoM).
‘‘The most significant price increases were observed on staples such as bread & cereals, protein, and tubers. ‘‘Imported food inflation moderated further to 18.15% YoY (February: 19.42% YoY) although it increased to 1.46% MoM (February: 1.39% MoM) given the significant Naira depreciation (at the parallel market) in February whose impact on prices of imported items may have lingered into March.

‘‘Suffice to say that the magnitude of decline recorded by the CPI would have been bigger, save for the notable price increases reported in the following major divisions: housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuel, education, food and alcoholic beverages, clothing and footwear and transportation services.
‘‘Food inflation increased to 18.44% YoY (vs. 18.53% YoY in February), albeit 9 basis points (bps) slower than the rate recorded in the previous month, supported by a 130bps drop in imported food inflation to 18.14% YoY, from 19.44% YoY, and lingering impact of a favourable base-effect.
‘‘However, on a MoM basis, food inflation, notwithstanding the improvement in the forex market during the review period and a slower 6.07% MoM (vs. 13.53% MoM previous month) increase in the prices of 25 selected food items in the NBS Selected Food Prices Watch for March, climbed by 2.21%, a faster pace than the 1.99% recorded in February.
‘‘We sense that prices in this segment were pressured by rising transport cost (8.24% MoM, 4.49% MoM, and 1.55% MoM increase in bus transport cost for within city, intercity, and water transport respectively). Notably, in March, the highest price increases were recorded by potatoes, yam and other tubers, bread and cereals, meat, milk, cheese, and eggs.’’

Foodie Naija Update

FOODIE NAIJA UPDATE (WHY MALNUTRITION IS CRIPPLING NIGERIA)

Lack of access to sufficient food due to an ongoing conflict in northeastern Nigeria will lead to the death of 75,000 children in
the next few months if left unresolved, UN says.
The treatment provided by UNICEF for malnutrition has a cure rate of 86%.

Imagine catching fish. You reel the fish in, bring it onto your boat and take it home where you also grow crops.
Day after day, you are self-sufficient. You can keep feeding yourself and your family because of easily accessible food.

Then one day an insurgency comes. You have to leave home. You go to a camp where the inhabitants are provided with
locally grown food. Where once you ate several meals a day, you now have to wait for days without food in between ration
deliveries to the camp. This is the reality for Aboubaccar, an internally displaced person (IDP) at a camp in Borno state, Nigeria, as reported by the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP).

He has 13 children to feed.
This is also the reality for 4.4 million people in northeast Nigeria who have been affected by food insecurity, a situation so severe the United Nations expects 75,000 children to die within the
next few months if they do not receive proper treatment for malnutrition.

The lack of food affects children more than any other age group. When Dr Joanne Liu and Dr Natalie Roberts of Doctors without Borders (MSF) went to Nigeria earlier this year, they were astounded by how few children
under the age of five were to be seen.

“Almost none,” they reported in a piece for Time as they wandered through Borno state. The children were gone, having starved to death from malnutrition.
Malnutrition is a condition which “occurs when a person’s diet doesn’t contain the right amount of nutrients .” This can lower
immune resistance to disease.

“A malnourished child is nine times more likely to die from another illness such as malaria or pneumonia or diarrhoea,” Doune Porter, the UNICEF Chief of Communication in Nigeria, told TRT World.

“(Children under five) are the most
vulnerable to malnutrition and most likely to suffer consequences, and permanent
consequences, because this is a time of great development for children,” Porter added.
UNICEF funding to provide children with the treatment they need to recover from malnutrition is running low. (AP) “Poverty, armed conflict, irregular rainfall
and high unemployment in parts of Nigeria contribute to high levels of food insecurity and chronic malnutrition,” the United States Agency for International
Development (USAID) said on its Nigeria factsheet.

The primary region of farming has always been in northeastern Nigeria. Agriculture there has been disrupted by the Boko Haram insurgency that has been brewing
in the region since 2009. Boko Haram, headquartered in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, is the armed group responsible
for the massacres of thousands of civilians and for the kidnapping of 276 Chibok school girls in 2014.
“The violence increased dramatically around 2013 […] because of the violence, farmers were not able to plant. In many
cases, people fled their homes and had to leave their food stores behind. And of course [they] did not have access to agricultural land,” said Porter.

The damage in the region is cumulative, Porter confirmed: “Between violence and reduced food seeds, this year we are actually in a situation where a couple of months ago there were pockets of 65,000 people living in famine.”
The food crisis in the area has even driven Boko Haram into neighbouring Cameroon to look for food.

“Farmers [have been] unable to cultivate their land for several years,” said Adel Sarkozi, the West African regional communication officer for WFP.
“[It is] difficult to reach people in need due to insecurity and remote location.”

The issue of not having access to conflict-affected areas compounds the problem.
“There are vast areas in Borno state which are the worst of the affected and are completely inaccessible. We have no idea
what is happening to people there,” Porter said.

Aid trucks attempting to enter such areas have not been able to deliver food.
The UN reported aid trucks going into conflict-hit areas as being ambushed by suspected Boko Haram fighters, leading them to temporarily suspend operations
earlier this year.

Another contribution to the food
insecurity is economic instability in the region, according to the WFP. Commodity prices have soared due to a weak currency, making food unaffordable.

The issue of food in IDP camps running low is further exacerbated by the insecurity in the region. (AP) Aid agencies in the area have attempted to mitigate the shortage by sending food to those who do not have enough.

Foodie Naija Update

FOODIE NAIJA UPDATE (PRESIDENCY UNFOLDS N500bn SOCIAL WELFARE PROGRAMMES)

The Presidency has
unfurled tentative details on the
implementation of its N500 billion social welfare programme,
revealing that one million extremely poor Nigerians would
be direct beneficiaries of the
N5,000 monthly cash transfer.

The payment which is to commence once the budget is
approved by the National Assembly, is besides another five
social interventions that include the provision of one meal a day to school pupils in some selected
states.

A total of N60 billion would be directly transferred to the one million extremely poor Nigerians,
according to a statement issued by the Office of the Vice President in accordance to
President Muhammadu Buhari’s
vision of building human capital.

Other elements of the social intervention scheme revealed,
yesterday, include the 500,000 direct jobs, which will see
unemployed graduates being
trained and deployed as volunteer teachers in their communities while still prospecting for jobs in their chosen professions.

The details as released by Mr Adeolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant, Media in the office of
the Vice President, also disclosed a youth employment plan which will see the training of 370,000
non-graduates youths in different skills and vocational programmes.

“The recruitment of beneficiaries into the volunteer teaching jobs and the skill acquisition training
scheme for non graduates would be done on state basis, including the FCT and opened to all Nigerians of different shades,”Akande said.

Another initiative also revealed is the micro credit scheme where one million Nigerians, mostly
small scale traders, artisans and market women, would get a one time soft loan of N60,000 each
through the Bank of Industry.

And finally there is the free education plan for students of
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), where government will pay tuition for
100,000 students.

Explaining the administration’s
determination to positively impact the capacity of Nigerians
through the unprecedented
intervention, Akande disclosed that at no time in the nation’s
budgetary history had the Federal Government made a
specific vote of such volume for social welfare.

“Even economic historians now say that not only is the half a trillion Naira vote unprecedented,
but it is also the greatest service ever done to the Nigerian state and people by any federal government administration,”
Akande said.

He noted that the six social safety plans would reduce high levels of poverty and
vulnerabilities, while also increasing Nigeria’s Human
Development Index on the global UN rankings.

“The President’s vision is to increase investments in human capital to guarantee security for all, employment and improved well being of the people,” the Vice President’s media aide added.

He disclosed that the Presidency was aware that past attempts to address poverty had suffered
because of insufficient political
will, presence of various UN- uncoordinated initiatives and poorly targeted beneficiaries, among other factors, and was working to avoid the pitfalls.

The Senior Special Assistant said for the Conditional Cash Transfer, CCT, where one million extremely
poor Nigerians will receive N5000 monthly in 2016, the
money would be paid directly to the beneficiaries through a payment system that is being worked out.

He said the World Bank and the Bill Gates Foundation were collaborating with the Presidency
to develop an efficient payment
system. All together, about N60 billion had been estimated to be
paid out to extremely poor Nigerians. And the implementation of the programme starts once the budget is passed.

Foodie Naija Update

Foodie Naija Update (Nigeria imports N1.3trillion worth of food annually)

Chairman, House of
Representatives Committee on
Agricultural Colleges
and Institutions, Hon. Linus Abaa Okorie has expressed concern
over the lack of sustainable food
policy in Nigeria.

He said the policy would have ensured food sufficiency and by extension trigger employment
opportunities as well as poverty eradication in Nigeria.

Speaking on Tuesday at the Committee’s interactive session
with the Hon. Minister of Agriculture and
Rural Development in Abuja, he said despite efforts by previous
administration at redeeming Nigeria’s
economy through agriculture, it was worrisome that the nation still spent a capital flight of over N1.3 trillion annually against its inherent potentials.

“I want to point out the precarious and unsustainable state of our current food policy that is anchored on an annual food import of more than N1.3 trillion and the
incontrovertible potentials of
Nigeria’s agriculture”, he noted.

Linus added that such policies that had defied all known
approach to robust agriculture since the 80s despite the nation’s critical
population was as a result of a whole some neglect of research, education and extension system, which was a key driver of the
sector.

He regretted that they were being strangulated through
policy instability, poor funding, lack of
political will as well as obsolete legal framework.

The Chairman was emphatic that crises rocking Cocoa Research Institute, Ibadan was one of
those sabotages that has occasioned loss
of resources in the last one else month, while promising that the Committee would wade into the crises.

“Crises at the Cocoa Research Institute, Ibadan has led to the
forced closure of the Institute for over a
month now with attendant loses of
resources, confidence and capacity”, he emphasised.

Speaking further, he called on the
Minister to revive the Agricultural
Development Programme so as
to drive the National agricultural extension system that would
eventually capture farmers directly,
noting that extension services was on the concurrent list.
Responding, the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe reiterated
the commitment of his Ministry in
collaborating with the Committee in the course of their oversight functions, stressing that activities of agricultural institutions must be
properly superintended for
maximum output.

He lamented that the nation’s agricultural economy had been
killed as a result of illegal importation of
rice, frozen foods and other food items through Seme and
Cameron borders, a situation he said had
destroyed the nation’s capacity of feeding over 60,000,000 Africans.

“Important of rice and frozen foods illegally through Seme and Cameron borders is a threat to our economy and it has killed our local rice production which was expected to feed other 60,000,000 Africans”, Ogbe said.

Foodie Naija Update

Foodie Naija Update NIMET Warns Against Food Crisis, Health Challenges, Disaster During Dry Season

The Nigerian Meteorological
Agency (NiMet) has warned that the effect of the El Nino
conditions associated with the current dry season will have
impact on food production and
health and disaster management.

This is contained in NiMet’s Dry Season Weather update by its Public Relations Unit on Friday in
Abuja.
NiMet explained that the expected physical and biological
changes in oceans in El Nino conditions would affect fish
species, distribution,
composition and abundance.

It added that fish species that thrived in deep tropical waters were predicted to move farther inwards, while cold water
species would move into deeper water as coastal waters became shallow and warmer.

According to NiMet, fishes that remain in affected region are
expected to experience reduced
growth, reproduction, and
survival thus leading to reduction in fish production and harvesting during the period under focus.

It added that fisher men were expected to have a harvest of
good catches due to reduction in river volume and flow of the river.

Foodie Naija Update

FOODIE NAIJA UPDATE (EXPERTS ADVOCATE NUTRITION, LIFESTYLE MODIFICATION FOR DISEASE PREVENTION)

Following increased rate of Non
Communicable Diseases (NCD) in
the country, experts have called on
Nigerians to maintain adequate nutritional diets, as well as
abstain from lifestyle that predisposes
one to health issues like diabetes,
cancer, respiratory disorders, among others.

The experts who spoke at a one-
day workshop organised by Coca
Cola Nigeria in Lagos recently, tagged:
‘Adequate Nutrition and Lifestyle:
Essential for Prevention of Non-
Communicable Diseases,’ said Nigerians must make deliberate attempts
to prevent the numerous health
issues in the country.

Speaking at the workshop, a
Consultant Nutritionist and
Dietician, Dr
Chika Ndiokwelu, said eating unhealthy diets have been
implicated to
cause a number of preventable diseases, adding that, processed foods
contain more harmful elements than the well known African
foods and vegetables which the country
was used to.

While stating that poor food intake, smoking, harmful use of alcohol and sedentary lifestyle were risk factors responsible for NCDs, she advised that eating of fruits,
legumes, vegetables, engage in regular
physical exercise, reduction of salt intake, reduction in alcohol intake, as well as quitting
smoking, would help a long way in
preventing NCDs.
She described NCDs as chronic but non-contagious medical
conditions which could lead to deformity or death.

“NCDs represent a major threat to health and development in the
21st century, as they account for 60 percent of all deaths and 43 percent of disease burden globally,”
she said.

She listed four major NDCs to include; cardiovascular diseases
(CVDs),
cancer, chronic respiratory
diseases and diabetes mellitus, adding
that, these four were the world’s biggest killers as they account for
36 million deaths annually.
“With the increasing level of NCDs, if proper measures are not taken, the country may be forced to
allocate more than three per cent of its
healthcare cost for the management of the diseases within the next 10
years,” she said.

Ndiokwelu, called on the Federal
Government to
develop a national
policy and action plan on food and nutrition, including the control of
diets related to non-
communicable diseases.
Statingthat, manufacturers
and producers of food products
should provide accurate nutritional
information on their products to help consumers make informed choices.

In his speech, a Research Fellow,
National Institute for Medical Research, Dr. Bartholomew Brai
said with improved healthy lifestyle
and right diets, NCDs will reduce drastically in the country, adding
that, Nigerians must shun risky factors that predisposes them to various kinds of health issues.

He charged health writers to continue to educate the public
on ways to preventing diseases and general
health education.
Meanwhile, the Director of Public
Affairs and Communication, Coca- Cola Nigeria, Mr. Clem Ugorji, said that the company has been striving to
provide clear nutritional values,
offer low calorie or non-caloric
beverages to the public.

Ugorji said the workshop was
organised to educate the public on issues
of nutrition as part of the company’s corporate social
responsibility
(CSR).
“The recipe of coca-cola has
remained unchanged for 129 years, with
more than 3,600 products in several countries and over 500 brands.

“This was achievable due to our acceptance by the public. We
shall continue to support and provide
the public with health information
because a healthy nation is a wealthy nation.
”The only way to reach the public
is through the media which is why
we are organising this workshop
for them to relate and know our
level of acceptance in the public.
The media also have a role to play by
ensuring that they publish accurate and factual information
so as not to misinform the public, ” he said.

Foodie Naija Update

FOODIE NAIJA UPDATE (FLOUR MILLS MULLS JOB CREATION, FOOD PRODUCTION)

Group Managing Director, Flour
Mills of Nigeria Mr. Paul Gbededo
has said the company is planning to
create thousands of jobs and drive
growth with the establishment
of large-scale farms.

He said the company is committed to driving productivity
and innovation through opportunities offered by markets
through the country.
Gbededo, in a chat, spoke of the company’s performance and
projections in the light of the award received from the Lagos Chambers of
Commerce and Industry (LCCI) as ‘Award for Impactful Contribution to
Economy through Backward Integration’ in the industrial space.

Gbededo said the company acquired its 10,000ha Kaboji
Farm in Niger State about 10 years ago which has grown to become the biggest
mechanised maize farm in the country. It uses 4,000ha to grow
maize.

He added that soybean has been
helpful in its vertical integration, which uses the produce at its feedmills in Ibadan and Calabar
for feeds for poultry.
He said the company is dedicated to sourcing its raw materials locally
and further the development of
the food industry.

The award is in recognition of the company’s efforts spanning about a
decade, when, in the
organisation’s plan, backward integration was adjudged the only way to support its food business
through local content addition as well as
improve food security in Nigeria.

On backward integration, he said
the programme helps to support the group’s manufacturing and
processing business.
For this, the Group Managing Director said it has invested over a billion dollars in the last five years
and projects that an equivalent sum would be spent in another five years in the agro-allied
business.

He added that the company is expanding its portfolio in the
agro-allied space because that would grow the local content and help
support the food business and
strengthen the growth of agriculture,
which would provide more jobs in Nigeria.
On the fall of the naira and impact on the business, Gbededo said there are two sides to the issue of the devaluation of the naira.

“In a way, it has put a lot of stress on our ability to bring
machinery and spares. It increases the naira cost of those inputs and upsets our projections since we operate in a naira environment – it affects our ability to make profits,” he said.
However, he pointed out that on the other hand, there is a
positive side. According to him, using maize for instance, the
commodity sells
about N45,000 – N50,000 per
metric ton, making locally produced maize to be competitive globally;
importing the grain would be at about
N60,000, thus making it a possibility to export surplus, if
any.

Gbededo revealed that it does not need to import maize now to run the operations of the processing
plants. The company, he said, is now
aggregating maize nationwide to
help its 350,000 metric ton plants
annually.
“Except there is a
shortfall in supply, we help boost the
fortunes of Nigerian farmers in earning more,” he said.

Foodie Naija Update

FOODIE NAIJA UPDATE (SCHOOL FEEDING AS A STRATEGY AGAINST MALNUTRITION)

At this critical time when there should be an intervention by the Federal Government to arrest the wave of malnutrition spreading like
harmattan fire in the country, the Osun example offers very great opportunity as a template for nationwide adoption.
Food is essential to human life.

This explains why food consumed by
both adults and children must be
nutritionally rich in content.
Any nutritional imbalance poses
serious health problems, particularly
to children – between the suckling age up to ten years.
It goes without saying that children
need high calories and balanced
diets for bodily growth and mental
formation.
A balanced diet is one
that gives the body the nutrition it needs to function properly. An inadequacy or
imbalance in diet causes malnutrition.

In medical and health parlance, malnutrition is generally a very
broad term which refers to both under-
nutrition (sub-nutrition) and over-nutrition.
An individual is
said to be malnourished or
suffering from under-nutrition if his or her
dietary intake does not provide the
adequate calories and protein for body maintenance and growth.

People can also be malnourished or
suffer from over-nutrition if they
consume too many calories.
According to the World Health
Organization (WHO), malnutrition is the
gravest single threat to global public health. And it is the
children who are by far affected by
malnutrition because they need nourishing
foods in their formative stages
more that any other group.

In essence, the quality of staple foods available to children in this early
stage of their lives goes a long way in
determining their development,
brain functions and health in later years.
Sadly, there are approximately
1.7 million severely and acutely
malnourished children under five
years of age in Nigeria, accounting
for a tenth of the global total of
children suffering from malnutrition.

And close to a
thousand Nigerian children, according to
WHO reports, die of malnutrition-
related causes every day, totalling
about 361,000 each year. Predominantly, a larger percentage of these malnourished children are located in the northern part of the country. The Punch newspaper
editorial of July 28, 2013, entitled,
“High Malnutrition in Nigerian Children,” highlighted this ugly
scenario by quoting a 2013 report by
the Federal Ministry of Health, which states thus, “41 percent of
Nigerian children under age five
suffer stunted growth as a result
of malnutrition.”

The survey, conducted in all the
states of the federation by the
ministry, according to the editorial, showed that acute malnutrition is prevalent among children in all
the states in the North, and is put
at as high as 80 percent of the
region’s population of children.
Last month, the Nigerian Tribune
reported that 2,072 children died
of malnutrition in Zamfara State
alone, in what could easiy capture as
one of the worst humanitarian
cases of the time.

The trend has been so alarming that the Federal Government in conjunction with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) had to
quickly intervene in 2014 before it snowballed into a national crisis.
That prompt intervention,
according to reports, reached more than a
million children with a successful and cost-effective treatment for acutely malnourished children.

After the exercise, UNICEF disclosed that over a million
children were
reached with life-saving malnutrition treatment in the
Community-based
Management of Acute
Malnutrition (CMAM) introduced into 11 Northern Nigerian states where
malnutrition poses a great threat.
It is instructive to know that acute
malnutrition leads to stunted growth of
children, which in turn causes
disproportional physical body
formations as well as reduces intellectual capacities.

Many more had been saved through such interventions in
the past, not only in Nigeria but across the
African continent, mostly in war-ravaged countries like Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi
and Central
African Republic.
This is as absurd as it is unacceptable in Nigeria of 21st
century where malaria, polio and other minor ailments still pose serious
health threats
to children.
Indeed, this trend must be reversed as a matter of urgency
or else millions of the nation’s potential
future leaders may grow up to be infirm in body and deficient in intelligence quotient.

Sincerely, I cannot agree more with some of the suggestions offered in the Punch editorial referred to above. One is an appeal to the 36 states of the federation to
introduce free feeding systems in
primary schools involving nutritional
food.