FIIRO ex-boss, Elemo, appeals for food security

By Valentine Amanze

The former Director General of Nigeria Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO), Oshodi, Lagos, Professor Gloria Nwakaegho Elemo, has decried the rising cost of living in Nigeria.

She has therefore called for food security in the country to avert the impending crisis.
Elemo spoke at the 19th inaugural lecture of Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, Oyo State.

She said that it was high time Nigerians provided bread for themselves without stress.
The FIIRO former boss whose lecture was titled, "Let there be bread; the struggle in achieving food and nutrition security in Nigeria," was optimistic that Nigeria could provide bread for its citizens without much stress if all hands could be on deck.

According to her, the cassava-for-bread her former institute, FIIRO, championed a decade ago, was borne out of the importance of bread to man, while lamenting that many Nigerians still go to bed hungry.

"Bread is one of the oldest foods produced worldwide. Historical records show the importance of bread in agriculture.

“In religious context, bread is regarded as sustenance of life and thus it has since become a symbol of needs; food included.

“To have bread everyday in Nigeria for at least about 10 percent of the population has been a struggle for a long time in now. Nigeria has a landmass spanning over 924,000km, with about 40 percent of arable land being cultivated. This is a huge economic agriculture potential, however, agriculture, which has been a major contributor to the Nigeria economy has not been able to solve the problem of food insecurity and malnutrition, " she lamented.
She said that the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the world report of 2018 stated, “11.5 percent of the Nigerian population is undernourished while 24.8 percent of the total Nigerian population is severely food insecure.”

The don blamed inadequate investment in agriculture, poor implemented agricultural policies and plans for the current state of the nation.

“Inadequate financial support for subsistence level farmers, high cost of farm inputs, poor storage facilities, poor market access and market inefficiency, the insurgency in the North, adverse clamatic condition and poor food processing are some of the factors why the country finds itself in this situation,” she said.

She said that there was evidence that addressing food insecurity especially through improvement in agriculture did not necessarily translate to a reduction in malnutrition.

“An aspect of food and nutrition security I focused on early in my research was looking at nutrition intake and nutrient requirements.

“Adequate nutrient or food intake is very important for maintaining a healthy life," Elemo said.
She said that for dietary intake to be adequate, it must meet the need of the human body, adding that there was the need to critically look at nutrient requirements for Nigerians.
The FIIRO former boss called for food processing and preservation to enable Nigeria address food security, adding that the country must embrace science and technology to food development to reduce post - harvest losses, increase the shelf life of products and help increase the chances of access to adequate food and bioavailabilty.

Elemo, who concluded her PhD 36 years ago, has gone through different career path, such as academia, research and development management, entrepreneurship development and other fields. The academia pleaded that Nigeria must struggle to ensure that no Nigerian go to bed hungry.

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