Malnutrition in Nigeria driven by ignorance - Ministry of Agriculture director

Malnutrition in Nigeria driven by ignorance - Ministry of Agriculture director

- The federal government has said that malnutrition in the country is driven by ignorance

- The deputy director, head of nutrition and food safety department at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development made the disclosure at the World Food Day conference

- Oyeleke Abdulrazak said Nigerians, must working towards a change in diet in the line of safe foods

The Ministry of Agriculture has said that malnutrition in Nigeria is mainly driven by ignorance among citizens.

A deputy director, head of nutrition and food safety department at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Oyeleke Abdulrazak, said many Nigerians are ignorant of the need for a balanced meal for their households.

Speaking at a one-day press conference on the 2019 World Food Day which was organised by the Civil Society - Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) in Abuja on Wednesday, October 16, Abdulrazak said the country is working towards a change in diet in line of safe foods.

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The WFD is celebrated across the globe every October 16 across. The day is set aside to celebrate successes achieved on the SDG towards zero hunger in the world.

This year’s celebration is themed: “Our Actions are Our Future, Healthy Diets for a zero hunger world’’.

With Nigeria leading the burden of stunting in Africa and the second highest in the world next to India, the country’s current nationwide childhood under-nutrition indicator stands at 37 per cent stunting, 7 per cent wasting and 23 per cent underweight (NDHS, 2018).

Continuing, Abdulrazak said: "Malnutrition is mainly driven by ignorance. People have what they can cook straight from the farms and gardens but would rather sell them to earn money."

He also encouraged Nigerians to take more locally-produced foods for a healthy and nutritious eating habit.

Abdulrazak said: "When you go to buy foods in markets and supermarkets, please, let us check the labels and its contents or compositions. Let us also stay away from too much salt and sugar, we need to positively change our diet to improve our living."

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He also said that the Nigerian government at the federal level is determined to attain nutrition security through the promotion of nutrition-sensitive agricultural initiatives.

According to Abdulrazak, addressing malnutrition challenges in the country was not only social service but an economic strategy.

Also speaking, the executive secretary of CS-SUNN, Beatrice Eluaka, appealed to the federal government to increase spendings on nutrition.

Eluaka also called for full implementation of the national multi-sectoral plan of action for food and nutrition in Nigeria.

According to her, the action plan will curb malnutrition in Nigeria as well as improve nutrition interventions, nutrition education and help farmers diversify food production, among others.

Calling for an alliance between the farmers and FG, Eluaka said such move would not only diversify food production but will also reduce post-harvest loses and adopt sustainable agricultural methods to preserve natural resources while increasing productivity and income.

Eluaka said the absence of ground-breaking strategies and cost-effective interventions could stunt Nigeria’s nutritional status, especially for mothers and children.

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She also said lack of result-driven strategies would only put the country at risk of not achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 2 of reaching Zero Hunger by 2030.

"The Civil Society - Scaling up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) is, therefore, calling on governments at all levels to increase investments in nutrition and fully implement the National Multi-sectoral Plan of Action for food and Nutrition," Eluaka said.

"This will improve nutrition interventions, nutrition education, address issues around breastfeeding-friendly policies, help farmers diversify food production, guide public food procurement and regulations on food marketing, labelling and advertising policies among others," she added.

Meanwhile, previously reported that the United Nation's Global Report on Food Crisis 2019 by the Food and Agriculture Organization listed Nigeria as one of the countries with severe acute hunger.

The report said no fewer than 113 million people experienced high levels of food insecurity in the world’s most severe food crises in 2018.

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