Federal Government, Oyo State, Nestle and Nollywood stars endorse 2019 Nutritious Food Fair at IITA

…Addressing malnutrition will add $29bn, says FG
By Godwin Atser
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The Federal Government of Nigeria, Nollywood celebrities, Oyo state government and food giant, Nestle, on Thursday endorsed the 2019 Nutritious Food Fair (NFF) aimed at combatting malnutrition especially among women and children.

The NFF is an annual event organized by HarvestPlus and its sectoral partners including International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and the private sector to raise the awareness needed to change the narrative of malnutrition in Nigeria.

Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alh. Sabo Nanono said addressing malnutrition and meeting nutrition targets of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) would inject additional $29 billion into Nigeria’s national income.

“Therefore, addressing malnutrition challenges is not only social service but economic strategy,” Nanono, who was represented by the Director of Agriculture, Engr. Frank Satumari, said at the press conference held in IITA Ibadan.

The three-day NFF program will hold from November 13 to November 15 and will be officially opened on November 13 by His Excellency, the Oyo State Governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde, in the presence of ministers and top dignitaries.

“Over 10,000 participants from eight countries but mostly from across Nigeria are expected to take part in the fair themed ’Nutrition is everyone’s business’,” said Paul Ilona, Country Director for HarvestPlus.

“It will feature panel discussions, scientific presentations, and exhibition of business opportunities to increase investments in the nutritious food sector,” he added.

Dr Kenton Dashiell, IITA Deputy Director General for Partnerships and Delivery, commended HarvestPlus for its efforts to end malnutrition. He said that the problem of malnutrition was that it limits the potential abilities of children.

“We have a major problem of malnutrition in Nigeria, children cannot reach their full potential. This makes me sad,” Dashiell said.

“…And we must look for ways to solve this,” he added, stressing that the NFF provides opportunity for stakeholders to take joint action against malnutrition.

To show their endorsement to the upcoming event, Nollywood stars represented by Segun Arinze, and Francis Duru joined other partners in IITA to play a novelty football match on Thursday evening in IITA. Nestle also will be participating in the event come November 2019

According to HarvestPlus, this year’s NFF will converge all key nutrition stakeholders in the public and private sectors including donors and Ambassadors to show progress made so far in biofortification; galvanize new opportunities for growth and build new capacities across the nutritious food value chains, which will contribute to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 1, 2 and 3) targets for Nigeria.

Highlights of the NFF will include: Innovations in nutrition showcasing biofortified crops like vitamin A cassava, vitamin A maize, Orange Sweet Potato, iron beans and pearl millet to improve health; Opportunities for small and medium scale (SME) investors to diversify, increase returns on investment and create employment in the fast growing nutritious food sector; Exhibition of nutritious foods by small, medium and large scale food processors and opportunities to engage new distributors and retailers; Exhibition of quality seeds by small, medium and large scale seed companies and opportunities to engage new agri-input dealers and retailers; Exhibition of farm and food processing equipment for SMEs in the nutritious food sector and training on equipment maintenance and Grassroots quiz-line to enhance nutrition and SME education for secondary school students

The 2019 NFF edition is the 5th since it began in 2015. Previous editions were held at Landmark Events Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos (2018); Michael Okpara Square, Enugu in 2017; International Convention Centre, Tinapa, Calabar, Cross River State in 2016; and the Federal Capital Territory Abuja in 2015.

HarvestPlus, coordinated by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), improves nutrition and public health by developing and promoting biofortified food crops that are rich in vitamins and minerals, and providing global leadership on biofortification evidence and technology. In Nigeria, it promotes cassava that provides more vitamin A in the diet, working with almost 40 partners drawn from government, business and civil society.