The federal government has flagged off the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) in Karu Model Primary school, Abuja, in an effort to address malnutrition of school age children and secure a better future for them especially the disadvantaged children.
Speaking at the occasion, Friday, in Abuja, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouq, said the NHGSFP was a government-led N70 per day school feeding programme designed by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to improve the health and educational outcome of public pupils using farm produce grown by smallholder farmers to provide mid-day meal to children on every school day.
Farouq said the HGSFP seeks to provide one free nutritional meal for children in primary 1-3 in all public primary schools in Nigeria using food produced within the state, adding that the initiative attempts to achieve the dual objective of increasing national food production and ensuring that children go to school.
According to her, the programme provides viable opportunity that links the smallholder farmers to the educational sector by facilitating their access to the feeding market, adding that the programme is targeting about 120,300 pupils that will be drawn from 626 public primary schools across the 6 area councils of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
She, however, said that, as part of the value chain, the programme will also empower the cooks and provide a sustainable income to smallholder farmers, thereby stimulating growth and productivity around the communities in the states, and promised to carry all the stakeholders along in the course of the full implementation of the programme in the FCT; to ensure efficient service delivery.
Also speaking, the FCT minister of state, Dr. Raumatu Tijani Aliyu, commended the initiative as a laudable one aimed at touching the grassroot pupils and to encourage pupils’s participation in school attendance, which has been seen in the states that practise it.
She, however, pleaded with the federal government to augment a bit above the N70 per day for the FCT pupils, saying that prices of things in the FCT are comparatively higher than other states.
“It has enhanced school attendance to about 90 per cent. It has also created jobs for parents that insist on children hawking, as they now have a place where they can market; thereby reducing child labour,” she said.