A former Director-General of the Nigeria Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi, Lagos, Prof. Gloria Elemo, says for Nigeria to attain for sufficiency and food security it must embrace food processing and preservation.
She said this while delivering the 19th Inaugural lecture of Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, Oyo State.
Elemo spoke on the title: ‘Let there be bread; the struggle in achieving food and nutrition security in Nigeria.”
The former FIIRO boss said it was imperative for the country to embrace science and technology to food development to reduce post -harvest losses, and increase the shelf life of products which would help in increasing the chances of access to adequate food and bioavailabilty.
She noted that it was high time Nigerians were able to provide bread for themselves without having to go through stress, because the nation had all it takes to bread bread for its citizens, if all hands were on deck.
Elemo arguing the importance of bread to man, said about a decade ago, FIIRO championed cassava bread revolution.
She, however, lamented that it was sad that many Nigerians still went to bed with empty stomach due to their inability to afford bread or any other food stuff.
She said, “Bread is one of the oldest foods produce in the world. 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 per cent of the population has been a struggle for a long time in now.
“Nigeria has a landmass spanning over 924,000km, with about 40 per cent 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.”
Quoting the World Report 2018 on state of food security and nutrition, Elemo stated that “11.5 per cent of the Nigerian population are undernourished while 24.8 per cent of the total Nigerian population are severely food insecure.
She blamed this on inadequate investment in agriculture, poor implementation of agricultural policies and plans, and inadequate financial support for subsistence farmers.
Other factors militating against food security, she added, include high cost of farm inputs,poor storage facilities, poor market access and market inefficiency , the insurgency in the North, adverse climatic condition and poor food processing.