To address the nutritional problems which have been plaguing Nigeria over the years, with the concomitant protein and micro-nutrient deficiency, governments at all levels have been asked to encourage youth to venture into farming of legumes and animal husbandry.
This can be achieved through the provision of rural infrastructure such as power, roads, water and markets to make agribusiness attractive and lucrative.
Small holder farmers should also be granted easy access to land, farm inputs and implements, including improved seedlings, fertilizer, tractors, etc, at subsidised rates.
In addition, interest free loans with long moratorium should also be provided to enable stability and sustainability of agribusiness.
These formed the fulcrum of the submission by an academic and lecturer, Dr Beatrice Chinyem Oganah-Ikujenyo, of the Department of Home Economics, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Lagos, at a one-day webinar with the theme: ‘The Nigeria Protein Deficiency Awareness Report 2020: Unpacking the Numbers, Exploring the IssuesConfirmation,’ in Lagos.
Dr Oganah-Ikujenyo, whose paper was on: ‘Exploring the Issues Behind Protein Deficiency in Nigeria,’ lamented that the reasons behind the poor protein intake in the country could be traced to socio-economic, cultural and political factors, poor knowledge of food and feeding habits, poverty and high cost of animal protein.
These factors, she said, include culture and superstitions with the resultant effect high consumption of starch whereby children are rarely given large meat or fish portion.
To stem the tide of trend that she said has high health challenges, she recommended, amongst others, nutrition education targeted at encouraging the consumption of multi-mixes or protein complementation, habit of meal planning, using the six food guide pyramid which enables the careful selection of foods.
For immediate solutions to the protein deficiency in the country, she advocated a sustained nutrition education on the importance of protein in ensuring health and wellbeing through nationwide radio jingles, TV adverts/skits, social media campaigns, market/church/mosques association discussions.
Dr Oganah-Ikujenyo, who is also a lecturer in the Department of Home Economics, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Lagos, recommended highlighting that children need more protein than adults; remove Nutrition from Health and create a separate Ministry for Nutrition
She said for long-term solutions, Nutrition as a subject, should be taught from cradle to University as a general course