Tackling malnutrition, poor growth in Nigeria

As Nigerians record average daily protein intake of 45.4g lower than the 53.8g standard recommended by FAO and 50% Nigerian children below five suffer malnourishment, ABDULRAHEEM AODU writes about steps being taken to shore up protein production in the country towards addressing low protein intake and poor diet.
Shortfalls in protein intake
Nigeria’s per capita daily protein intake is estimated to be 45.4g according to a report which falls short of the minimum 53.8g standard recommended by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Also, latest UNICEF report stated that, “Five in every 10 Nigerian children under the age of five are malnourished (stunted, wasted or overweight); even as three in every 10 Nigerian children aged between one to 23 months live on poor diets due to poverty, urbanisation, climate change and poor eating choices driving unhealthy diets.”

Proteins are essential nutrients for the human body as they are one of the building blocks of body tissue that can also serve as a fuel source. Hence, the need to ensure increased and efficient production of improved foods very rich in protein such as fish, poultry, animal and dairy products to address the shortfall and had led to stunting the growth rate of Nigerians. This would also address poor brain development and other diseases and anomalies caused by poor nutrition.
It is this need for increase and qualitative production of protein for Nigerians to bridge the unhealthy gap and ensure healthy growth of Nigerian adults and children that made Agricultural Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS) project vital to the country’s development.

The $200 million World Bank project in Kaduna, Kano, Kogi, Lagos, Enugu and Cross River states aims at empowering 300,000 youth, women and people living with disabilities. The four-year programme equally aims to promote food security, agricultural exports and improving livelihood of Nigerians.

The green alternative

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s collaboration with the World Bank focuses on various agricultural crops and animal husbandry such as dairy, poultry, aquaculture and their value chains. The project is in line with the agricultural promotion policy – The Green Alternative – that focuses on food security, local production, jobs creation and economic diversification.

This explains why 418 women and youths from Kaduna state were trained for two-week in fish farming, poultry farming, animal husbandry and dairy production at Audu Bako College of Agriculture, Dambatta, Kano state.
Training youth, women on poultry, fish production
The 418 women and youth trainees are the second batch of trained beneficiaries under the World Bank’s APPEALS project.
The state project coordinator of APPEALS, Dr Yahaya Aminu, said that the two-week training was designed to equip the women and youth beneficiaries of the project with basic skills and technical know-how in their respective value chains and segments of agribusiness.

He said the training would enable the beneficiaries to establish and manage their businesses from the grants given to them during project implementation. He however advised the beneficiaries to be serious in handling the skills they had learnt, hinting that, there is a huge market for them in the Kaduna state government’s drive to promote agriculture.
According to Dr Aminu, “The aim of the training given to them was to equip them with basic skills and technical know-how in agribusiness, along its respective value chains and segments. This would enable them to establish and manage their businesses from the grants set aside for them during project implementation.

“Governor Nasir el-Rufai is recording landmark achievements in his drive to promote agriculture. The government is creating opportunities for investment in agriculture and the results are encouraging. I wish to implore all the beneficiaries to make good use of this opportunity and key into the policies and programmes of the state.”
According to Aminu while addressing the beneficiaries, “You were selected out of more than 64,000 candidates that expressed interests through rigorous procurement and selection procedures. This affirms the commitment and confidence of the state government that you would assist to deliver on its objective of ending unemployment by empowering youths and women to improve their livelihood and self-reliance.
“Therefore, you are advised to make good use of this golden opportunity availed you to work very hard to eliminate hunger, reduce poverty and enhance livelihood in Kaduna state and the country at large,” he said.
Beneficiaries upbeat of improved protein productionThe beneficiaries are all delighted for the opportunities given to them to become self employed as they work towards achieving their dream of becoming big time farmers and producing protein for Nigerians.Ereje Awu is a poultry farmer from Kagarko local government area. Speaking on his experience in the training, he said, “This project would change my life. I use to rear less than 500 fowls, now I can improve it to 1,000 and even 2,000. This project would help me to expand my poultry and improve on it. I appreciate the effort of Nigerian government to eradicate poverty.”Hajiya Salamatu Isiaku Umar, a widow sees the APPEALS project impacting hugely on the agricultural development in Nigeria. “The APPEALS programme would reduce hunger since there are seven different value chains: fish, poultry, dairy, ginger, rice, tomato and maize. Whatever we produce  we would bring some home for the family. The project will boost food security.“I’m a fish farmer but I apply for poultry production so that I can have knowledge of it. We want the project to be scaled up for others to also benefit. I urge our men not to use the grant to marry more wives and our women should not use the grant to buy house furniture; they should use the grant for the purpose it was meant.”Ambi Solomon from Sanga LGA applied for dairy production because of his passion for animal rearing. He believes the APPEALS project would boost food production and agriculture development.The project, according to the timeline, terminates in September 2023.

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