HarvestPlus, an international organisation tasked with developing nutritional food crops to tackle hidden hunger in Nigeria has said one of the key priorities of its 2018 Nutritious Food fair coming up in Lagos will be to facilitate a linkage between local processors and businesses in order to support their investments.
Paul Ilona, the country manager for Nigeria, speaking at a conference to unveil the fair said the promotion of biofortification in the breeding of staple food crops in Nigeria should not only be viewed through the nutritional lens but as a business opportunity of actors in the different agricultural value chains.
“Food is not food if it does not have the nutrients that the body requires. Getting these nutritious foods into Nigeria is a business on its own and is now a platform that can create employment for our youths. At the fair, we are going to have a business Incubation Centre. We are bringing equipment like flash dryers, tomato, garri roasters and packaging equipments among others. Also, we are going to allow our youths go through training such that they start from the beginning of the value chain and they go through to end. They will then be examined and certified,” he said.
Olapeju Phorbee, the country manager, International Potato Center, addressing the elimination of poverty among farmers, said initiatives like biofortification needed to be supported by governments at all levels, such that farmers can have ready markets to supply their produce.
Similarly, Francis Aminu, director of health and nutrition, Dangote Foundation, noted that the issue of improved nutrition is very germane to the objectives of the foundation with its focus shifted on addressing development in agriculture, by empowering people to attain self-sufficiency in production.
According to Babafemi Oke, chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), avenues for farmers to locate potential markets is a puzzle that can be solved through the partnerships with organisations like HarvestPlus.
He said: “The essence of coming together as an association is to enlighten ourselves and tell where markets are. There are people who ask for large volume of tonnes and we know where we can direct them. Coming together as an association is an opportunity to know where you can sell, what you are planting and the nutritional aspects of what you are doing. We are happy that with the platform we’ll be more enlightened for our activities.”
With 150 exhibitors expected to participate at the fair billed for 7 and 8, focus will also be given to innovations in nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food systems, identification of opportunities in Nigeria’s nutritious food sector and the enabling environment for growth.
The fourth edition of the Nutritious Food Fair, a commercial platform for promoting the production, marketing and consumption of nutritious foods, hopes to gear political will, markets and research towards increased production of nutritious foods.
Overtime, the organisation has been supported by the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) to breed, test, and release vitamin A cassava. developed through partnerships with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (llTA).
To strengthen demand, the organisation has supported commercial processing of vitamin A cassava, maize and Orange Sweet Potatoes into popularly consumed products such as garri and fufu from vitamin A cassava and confectioneries.
With its network of extension agents and rural facilitators, receive training in agronomic practices, it has leveraged on awareness campaigns in educating Nigerians on micronutrient deficiencies.
According to a News Agency of Nigeria monitored report, GEF supports the centre, an NGO, with a grant of 100, 000 dollars to implement environmental related-project.
The project, which started in 2014 was tagged: “Adaptation to Climate Change Through Biogel Production from Moringa Oleifera in Oyo State”.