TechnoServe, Bühler, dsm-firmenich, and Partners in Food Solutions have joined forces with the Nigerian government in promoting healthy nutrition through large-scale food fortification as part of measures to end hidden hunger and boost food security in the country.
Hidden hunger is a situation in which a person consumes food items that fall short of the globally required percentage of vitamins, and minerals, a trend that is on the rise in Nigeria.
According to TojuUkubeyinje, country director of PFS, treating hidden hunger is cost-effective and offers a huge return on investment for businesses and tackling it will require collaborative efforts from all industry stakeholders.
Ukubeyinje, who spoke at a one-day national seminar held in Kano recently, said the partnership is now coordinating action directed at ensuring that Nigerians eat and have access to more fortified foods.
To tackle the issue of hidden hunger in the country, He disclosed that his organization has assembled a team of volunteers who are helping indigenous rice millers to tap opportunities in the food fortification business.
In his presentation, earlier, Jesse Ichull, an account manager at dsm-firmenich, disclosed that a study recently conducted across the country indicates that about 85 percent of Nigerians are ready to purchase fortified rice products.
He added that the study also revealed that about 76 percent of Nigerians also have a preference to pay more for fortified rice, a development that indicates a wide acceptance of micro-nutrient fortified rice in the country.
Ichull urged rice millers and stakeholders at the seminar, to leverage the opportunity that the seminar offers to upgrade their knowledge and experience, as well as the technology that the organisers of the event are promoting to enable them to compete.
Also, speaking at the occasion, AyodeleTella, senior program manager at TechnoServe, representing the Millers for Nutrition (M4N) coalition, said that the M4N is a miller-centric coalition that is supported by a range of players from across the food value chain.
It is positioned to celebrate, enable, and encourage millers who are ready to set the pace for rice fortification in Nigeria, following the directive of the federal government to increase essential nutrient intake through staple foods in the country.
The Millers for Nutrition, program coordinated by TechnoServe in Nigeria and seven other countries in East Africa, and South-East Asia will provide technical assistance to rice millers to fast-track the realization of the objective of the government to reduce hidden hunger.
Outlining reasons, why food fortification is required in Nigeria, she stated that the high cost of adequately diverse diets of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious foods is prohibitive to millions of Nigerians who are trapped in multi-dimensional poverty, underscoring the importance of consuming fortified staple foods such as rice, edible oil, flour, sugar.
According to her, the increased local production of rice, the industrial structure of the sector, and a per capita consumption of about 32kg per person annually across all regions and economic quantile begs the case for rice fortification.
She pointed out that the seminar was organized to stimulate rice millers in the country to meet the federal government’s goal of ensuring that 100 percent of rice in Nigerian food items found across markets is fortified by 2026.
During the event, Ghosh Aryuman, senior area sales engineer of Bühler Nigeria highlighted Bühler’s equipment solutions for rice fortification including the CompacTwinTM Twin-Screw Extruder which produces stable fortified rice kernels with 99percent nutrient retention even after 10 months of storage and blending solutions like the SpeedMixTM Batch Mixer which produces consistent mixing quality with a minimal maintenance requirement.
In the same vein, Abdoulaye Lo, who is the sales manager at dsm-firmenich Nigeria, also provided briefs about the global operations of his company and the interventions that the company is ready to offer to the Nigerian rice industry in the quest for the attainment of a hidden hunger free status.