Consumption of bio-fortified foods has been identified as antidote to malnutrition, considering nutrition crisis and the 10 per cent loss in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
At a Quarterly Media Parley in Lagos, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), which disclosed this, lamented that Nigeria’s budget on nutrition from the overall government expenditure is the lowest, standing at about 0.2 per cent.
They appealed to the Federal Government to commit more funds and encourage the cultivation of more bio-fortified crops to address issues of malnutrition in the country.
Executive Director, GAIN, Dr. Lawrence Haddad called on government at all levels to pay more attention to nutrition, as he said the development of any nation is solely dependent on its active workforce, comprising young people who need adequate nourishment from food to be productive.
According to him, government at all levels needs to be more proactive to tackle the menace by investing more money in nutrition. “Since 2015, when we started this report, we discovered that 40 per cent of all countries in the world have massive problems of under-nutrition. This figure has now gone up to 60 per cent.
“37 per cent of under five children are stunted in Nigeria. Without proper nutrition, the future of a child is being thwarted. However, there is need for more funds to be ploughed into programmes and schemes on nutrition because malnutrition is an expensive challenge to overcome.”
Also speaking at the event, the Regional Director, CIAT, Dr. Debisi Araba said there is need for a better and proper coordination of nutrition in the policy space to improve nutrition challenges in the country.
He therefore advised the Federal Government to partner with the private sector in the production of more bio-fortified foods, in order to meet diet diversification demands.
“Nutrition is a national priority and should be made a priority. We need to go beyond feeding population to nourishing population. Malnutrition for Nigeria is like a global financial crisis,” he said.