The Country Manager of HarvestPlus Nigeria, Mr Paul Ilona said last Saturday that urbanisation was affecting the dietary diversity of Nigerians.
HarvestPlus is part of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Programme on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH).
Ilona told newsmen in Lagos that urbanisation had not been properly managed.
According to him, fruit trees have been overtaken by ornamental trees, affecting the country’s nutritional density, hence the need for bio-fortification.
Our source reports that bio-fortification is meant to increase the density of vitamins and minerals in the crop through plant-breeding or agronomy practices, so that when consumed regularly, such crops would generate the required vitamins and minerals for the body.
Ilona said: “Urbanisation is seriously affecting the dietary diversity of Nigerians, and there is need for more nutritious foods that will enhance our capacity.
“We have not done enough to add value to diversifying our foods; we have focused too much on urbanisation.
“In the olden days, on the way from school, you could climb any fruit tree; but we do not have that anymore because fruit trees have been replaced by ornamental trees.
“Ornamental trees are good, but will not add value to our nutritional requirements, which is why I say urbanisation is good, but we have not managed it well.”
The country manager said that it had become necessary to add value to the lives of Nigerians, thereby promoting wellness.
Ilona said that the current drive to promote bio-fortified foods was to fight against hidden hunger, which was taking a toll on children and pregnant women.
According to him, the country is over-concentrating on producing carbohydrate foods.
“It is not about how much food you have put into the system; it is the extent to which the food you have eaten meets the desires of the parts of the body.
“According to World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2015, 100 children under age five die; and 6 women of childbearing age die every hour in Nigeria, and this should be a concern to us.
“About 60 per cent of the reasons for their deaths have been attributed to malnutrition,” he said.
The HarvestPlus official described hidden hunger as a situation whereby one has eaten, but the body systems did not derive what they required from such food.
“Nigeria has come of age that we should not be hungry again. It is germane to ensure that Nigerians have access to nutritious food,” he said.
Umahi Declares Support For FG’s Border Closure
Ebonyi State Governor, Chief David Umahi, has declared support for the Federal Government’s closure of the nation’s borders, commending President Muhammadu Buhari for his courage in taking the action.
Umahi made the declaration last Monday at Onueke, headquarters of Ezza South Local Government Area of the State, while declaring open the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Account Opening Week (AOW).
According to him, the nation will gain tremendously from the closure.
Umahi urged Nigerians to weigh the option of consuming poison from foreign produced-rice and ‘killers’ crossing the borders into the country in the name of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) treaty.
“We should consider the benefits of protecting lives and quote me anywhere, I support the president on the issue of border closure.
“The closure of border means that the illegal smuggling of petroleum products is minimised and so many other benefits,” he said.
The governor queried the pressure from other countries for Nigeria to open the borders, noting that they should not be more ‘Catholic than the Pope’.
“When China closed its economy against the world, it sat and provided a pathway for its survival, bearing in mind, its population.
“When it eventually opened its economy to the world, one can see that it is a super power and so our nation should not be a dumping ground.
“I believe the CBN supports the border closure because it has helped to ‘shore’ up the value of the Naira,” he said.
Umahi said the campaign for the opening of accounts would be intensified in the state during the period, as political officer holders, especially the new appointed ones will be expected to open accounts if they have not.
“The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairman should stop paying party executives by cash and when one includes the market women of over 10, 000 who are expected to open accounts, we will have about 15, 000.
“We will support each rural farmer who has not opened account from the 64 LGA development centres with N1, 000 to open accounts.
“The CBN must therefore, lobby the development centre coordinators to ensure that the beneficiaries do not have to come to Abakaliki to do this,” he said.
CBN Abakaliki Branch Controller, Mr Chris Adayi, said that the event which started from December 2 to December 7, was going on across five other states of the country namely: Bayelsa, Ondo, Kano, Nasarawa and Gombe.
“The AOW is an initiative of the Bankers Committee, Financial Service Providers and all financial inclusion stakeholders in the state.
“We are expecting to open 47, 000 to 50, 000 new accounts and Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) in 2019 and 2020 respectively, and this means a lot of work for us.
“The activity is part of the initiatives aimed at driving collective action and achieving the intended targets, while targeting the grassroots,” he said.
Adayi said that during the event, deposit money banks, micro finance banks, pension, insurance and capital market operators would mobilise to open accounts for the citizens.
Gas Marketers Urge FG To Dredge Excravos Channel
The Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers (NALPGAM), has appealed to the Federal Government to dredge the Escravos Channel in order to ease supply of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) to South South zone.
Its President, Mr Nosa Ogieva-Okunbor, made the appeal in an interview with newsmen in Lagos, yesterday.
Ogieva-Okunbor said the expansion of the Escravos Channel which leads to Koko, Sapele and Warri Ports would also ease congestion in the Lagos Port and improve LPG availability for consumers.
He said: “The government should look into expanding the channel in Escravos so that bigger vessels can bring in products to Warri and the South South areas.
“The Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG) recently started bringing products to Port Harcourt which is a laudable achievement but this can be improved on by opening up the Escravos Channel.
“Statistics have shown that there is an upward movement in the consumption of LPG. So supply to Port Harcourt alone is not enough.
“The depots should be continuously wet and there should be product availability all the time. Dozzy Gas, Matrix and others in the South South should have products all the time.
“By the time the depots in the south south are wet, there will be no need for people from those areas coming to Lagos to buy products. By so doing, you are reducing the traffic on Lagos Port.”
Ogieva-Okunbor also appealed to the NLNG to consider increasing its 350,0O0 MTPA set aside for local consumption of LPG in order to increase availability.
According to him, LPG consumption is about 624,000MT as at July 2019 with the country expecting to hit the one million metric tonnes mark by the end of the year.
He said: “The allocation from NLNG is low compared to the demand. I want to appeal to the NLNG to look into increasing the volume being given to local consumption.
“I know that by 2020, we might be hitting over one million metric tonnes and it is one of our drive that before five years time, at least 25 per cent of Nigerians should be using LPG.
“This should be not only for cooking but in driving their vehicles and electricity as well manufacturing purposes.”
The NALPGAM president also decried the upsurge in the price of cooking gas in spite of the efforts of the NLNG.
“The NLNG has been delivering back to back but because of that shortage when products were not brought in and because of the congestion problem in Apapa Port, the price still remains high,” he said.
“They are selling for N4.35 million for 20MT and this was a product that was being sold for N3.2 million only four weeks ago.
“So our projection is that this will remain like this for sometime and the only solution is for the NLNG to saturate our terminals with products. When there is product at all times, this panic buying will not be there and marketers will be able to plan properly,” he added.
Rivers Farmer Bags National Honour On Productivity
The Chief Executive officer/Managing Director of Vintage Farms and Products, Engr Mike Elechi, has bagged the National Order Merit Award on Productivity due to the strength of his farms.
Elechi, who spoke in an interview with The Tide at the weekend in Elele, said that he would continue to do more until the farm got its best.
He explained that his input to the farm have yielded profit, sequel to the federal recognition of the farms.
The Vintage Farm boss, also praised his employees over what he described as sincere commitment, adding that they were part of the success story of the farm.
The ceremony which marked the 18th edition of the event, had up to 22 awardees which fell under various categories like job creation and organizational awardees.
On how his farm was selected, he explained that it was an independent research by the organizers that revealed the farm to the world.
He pointed out that the farm was selected based on merit, as no one knew any member of the committee until the farm was announced for the award among other farmers.
” I was outside the country when the news got to me, I have to sent my people to go to Abuja and pick the letter, that was how I came back for the award last Thursday”, he added.
The former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works, further attributed part of the farms achievement to the press who he said its members are always there for them.
The Agriculturist also hinted that about 900 entries were entered for the National honour which his Farm was selected by the organisers.
Earlier, he had expressed gratitude to the Presidency and his workers which he said are from all parts of the country, saying that the recognition had justified the salaries paid to them.
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