The Apapa Local Government has said it was ready to go into partnership with Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs, Alausa, Ikeja and a non-governmental organisation, CS-SUNN and Healthy Living & Women Empowerment Initiative (HELWEI) for improved food, nutrition security and income generation for the grassroots people in the council.
The pledge was made recently during a sensitisation programme on Vertical Farming Development hosted by the Apapa LGA.
Speaking on behalf of the council chairman, Hon. Adele Elijah Owolabi, the Vice Chairman, Kevin Oluwaseun Gabriel, said that the council was ready to collaborate with anyone so long as such a partnership would be in the interest of the people of the local government in particular and Lagos State in general.
He noted that nutrition is key to man’s health and development, therefore, must be given due attention. Given this understanding by the management of the council, the Chairman mandated that both the political and administrative arms of the council to be on ground to welcome the visiting team for the sensitisation programme.
According to him, although the Council is already into many agro-based campaigns and programmes, additional knowledge on how the lives of the indigenes could be improved upon through proper nutrition can never be too much.
Earlier in her remarks as presented by Osho Gbolahan Azeez, Head, Food and Nutrition Unit, Community Agriculture Department, Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs (MLG &CA), Alausa, Ikeja, Bashorun G.O., the director of the ministry, gave the background to the collaboration.
“The National Committee on Food and Nutrition(NCFN) and the State Committee on Food and Nutrition(SCFN) have resolved to embark on activities that will drastically reduce micronutrients malnutrition or hidden hunger particularly in most vulnerable groups like infants, young children and women of reproductive age in Lagos State. The programme is set out to develop crops that are bio-fortified with micronutrients such as vitamin A, iron, folate, iodine or zinc through agronomic methods, conventional breeding techniques or via biotechnology,” she said.
The Director further said: “The process of fighting malnutrition, hidden hunger and stunting in vulnerable groups should be approached in a holistic manner. To that extent, this collaboration of the major stakeholders including the local councils will go a long way in achieving the set objectives of addressing food and nutrition insecurity problems in Lagos State.”
Explaining the nature of the programme, she said: “The Community Agriculture Department of the MLG & CA with huge support from CS-SUNN and HELWEI, has done a lot in ensuring Lagos State is secure in the area of food and nutrition. In order to further develop the project, we have decided to incorporate the Local Government Councils so that we can jointly conquer the menace of malnutrition in or hidden hunger.”
“Apart from ensuring food security in Lagos State, this collaborative initiative is poised to build the capacities of agricultural stakeholders at the community level as well as deploy a holistic approach to addressing hidden hunger in children and the elderly for nutrition security in Lagos, Nigeria and Africa as a whole. Please, let us join hands to kick malnutrition out of Lagos State,” she enjoined all, adding that “the programme is purely practical demonstration that involves the actual training and raising the crops to maturity. This comes up at the second phase of this programme, if the conditions for collaboration among all stakeholders are affirmative.”
In her address, Ebere Okey-Onyema, executive director, Healthy Living and Women Empowerment Initiative (HELWEI) reeled out data on the severity of Vitamin A and Iron deficiency in Nigeria.
According to Okey-Onyema, “Our project aims to address the problem of micro-nutrient malnutrition through bio-fortification. Bio-fortification, which is the process of increasing nutritional value of food crop by increasing the density of vitamins and minerals in a crop, is one of the sustainable food-based approaches towards addressing micro-nutrient malnutrition. It is cost-effective with holistic reach. There are bio-fortified Vitamin A rich staples in Nigeria (Vitamin A Cassava, Maize and Orange-fleshed sweet potato crops) for addressing Vitamin A deficiency. However, low sensitisation has affected their adoption, hence, the need for awareness on available nutritious food crops and empowerment on access and utilisation for household consumption and income generation. Investments in nutrition interventions especially at the grassroots level will help hungry families feed themselves, combat malnutrition, help Nigerian children attain their potential and stimulate economic development.”
“According to her, “Vulnerable populations get 60-70percent of calories from staple crops. These are mainly grains, root, and tuber crops, high in carbohydrates/calories (energy) but lacking in important micronutrients. We hope to see biofortified crops become fully integrated into food system as a solution to micro nutrient deficiency and poverty among poor and hungry households in Lagos.”
“We have designed a practical demonstration and training aimed at empowering farmers, women and youths with the skill and knowledge to grow and be in other value chain of micronutrient rich crops,” she said.
Seyi John Salau