HarvestPlus, a global bio-fortifier of nutritious crops has said that it is working to
address malnutrition and hidden hunger in Nigeria by ensuring that Nigerian farmers now grows crops that are very rich in essential micro nutrients.
HarvestPlus Country Manager, Paul llona made this know while speaking with newsmen in Lagos.
Paul said hidden hunger is a lack of vitamins and minerals and it occurs when the quality of food people eat does not meet their nutrient requirements adding that the food is deficient in micro nutrients such as the vitamins and minerals that they need for their growth and development.
He noted that Harvestplus is currently working with millions of farmers to provide micronutrients to billions of people directly through the staple foods that they eat.
Also adding that HarvestPlus, has introduced about 2000 metric tons of vitamin A maize into the Nigerian market this year to help address issues of malnutrition.
He noted that the introduction of maize variety biofortified with vitamin A is a critical step in addressing the deficiency of basic nutrients in children’s health development across the country.
“Two years ago we produced 300 metric tons of vitamin A maize, last year it was about 1500 metric tons and this year we are pushing to the market 2000 metric tons to address the country nutrition issues”
Paul also noted that Nigerian farmers are now producing vitamin A cassava, zinc rice, iron and zinc millet among others.
He further stated that micronutrients malnutrition will lead to increased pressure on national health budget and that weak labour force can be addressed with the adoption of bio-fortified crops.
“Until we address nutrition, Nigeria political and economy crisis will not be solved. Nigerians must eat well to think well for the problems of this country to be solved. Today in the world, we have over 200 varieties all ready to deliver one nutrients or the other.
“We work across key components of the chain and one of our duties is to address one of the challenges along the core value chain; from supply of seeds to ensuring that we have the right environment and then we have the demand that is stimulated to ensure that farmers will remain in production.
Furthermore he stated that the vitamin A maize introduced into the country has two comparative advantages; it is long term cost effective and it has the ability to reach the underserved rural population of the country.
He explained that the long term consequences of insufficient amounts of essential micronutrients in human diets are devastating as it plays a crucial role in human development, adding that its deficiency can cause birth defects, permanent physical and mental impairment, as well as increased risk of death.
However, Ilona said that HarvestPlus will be holding this year’s nutritious food fair in Lagos on the 7th to 9th of November at Landmark event Centre, Victoria- Island.
The nutritious food fair according to him will bring together stakeholders and will help create awareness on the need for our food to have nutrients that will help the body organs.