• Gov AbdulRazaq reaffirms focus on stemming hunger, malnutrition

• Our goal is to attain nutrition sensitive agriculture – FG.

Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq
Kwara state on Wednesday said his administration is committed to promoting food security and regular intake of nutritious foods among citizens, saying not less than 10,000 farmers of all categories have so far benefitted from its empowerment programmes in the state.

The Governor spoke in Ilorin at the 7th edition of the Nutritious Food Fair organized by the HarvestPlus Nigeria in partnership with the Kwara state government.

The Fair is themed: “Reaching Millions Through Commercial Nutritious Food System – the Role of Biofortified Crops.”

Represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Prof. Mamman Saba Jibril, AbdulRazaq said the 15 new tractors and two bulldozers the government recently purchased are another testament to his administration’s push for a better change in the agric sector.

“Our administration is committed to food security and empowerment of all categories of farmers, including commercial and smallholder farmers.

“We have recently purchased 15 new tractors and two bulldozers. We also distributed improved seeds, assorted fertilisers and chemicals at subsidised rates to no fewer than 10,000 registered farmers in the state,” he said.

The Governor, who noted that the Food Fair is contributory to the realization of people’s well-being, human capital development and food security, said the government has also heavily spent money for the smooth take-off of Special Agro-industrial Processing Zone (SAPZ) and the establishment of milk collection centres across the state, in collaboration with FRIESLANDCAMPINA WAMCO.

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“We are also providing irrigation facilities across the state to support year-round farming activities.

“Our administration has also paid the counterpart funds to secure a smooth take off of the FADAMA NG-CARES programme to cushion the effect of Covid19 pandemic on vulnerable agro-businesses in the State.

“Our participation in impactful programmes like ANRIN, Save A Million Lives, Scaling Up Nutrition programmes is geared towards promoting good nutrition and general well-being of the people,” he added.

AbdulRazaq commended the organizer of the event and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD); International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and Action Aid Nigeria among other partners that he said are complementing the government’s move for a turnaround in the agricultural sector and agribusiness value chains in the state.

“This event comes with many benefits. Apart from its impacts on nutritious food security, it also helps to develop and promote the cooking skills of young people, especially those in senior secondary schools. It also draws more attention to the need for consumption of nutritious food which in turn promotes good health.”

At the event were various dignitaries including Vice Chairman Senate Committee on Agric and Rural Devt. Attahiru Bima; representative of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Engr. Abdullahi Garba Abubakar; representative of the Minister of Health, Mrs. Yvonne Yinfaowei; Country Manager HarvestPlus Nig. Ltd. Yusuf Dolla Fou’ad; state Commissioner for Agriculture Hon. Saba Yisa Gideon; her counterparts in Tertiary Education and Youth Development, Ibrahim Suleiman Senior and Harriet Adenike Afolabi-Oshatimehin; andTechnical Assistant to the Governor on Agric Abdulqowiyu Olododo.

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Royal fathers in attendance included the Olofa of Offa Oba Muftau Muhammad Gbadamosi Esuwoye ll; Olupako of Share Oba Haruna Olawale Suleiman; Olusin of Ijara Isin Oba Ademola Ajibola.

In his remarks, Minister for Agric Dr. Muhammed Abubakar who was represented by Engr. Abdullahi Garba said the paramount goal of the Central government is to attain food security and promotion of nutrition sensitive agriculture in the country.

While commending the state government’s efforts and investments in the sector, the Minister called for an increased campaign on the need for Nigerians to be conscious of what they consume, even as he asked them to be eating indigenous nutritious foods that he said are in abundance in all parts of Nigeria.

Representative of the Health Minister, Mrs. Yvonne Yinfaowei said the children are suffering most as a result of deficiency in micronutrient foods, and advocated the need to urgently address the challenge.

He added that the lack of a balanced diet results in poor growth, low cognitive and development among others.

Hon. Gideon said the Food Fair could not have come at a better time than now, that he said, incidence of malnutrition is on the high side with women and children greatly affected.

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He said, the state was deemed fit to host this year’s edition of the Fair on account of the government’s investments in the sector and its efforts at encouraging kwara farmers in planting Vitamin A maize especially during the 2020l and 2021 planting seasons.

Technical Assistant AbduQowiyu Olododo said the state government launched a 10-year Agricultural Transformation Plan early this year not only to ensure food sufficiency but also to ensure nutritious foods are produced and stored from now till 2030, describing such initiative as “the first of its kind in the state since 1967.”

He explained that the plan will enhance production of nutritious foods, provide job opportunities for citizens and reduce hunger and malnutrition cases in the state.

Fou’ad, for his part, said anyone who normally consumes food that contains no micronutrients and vitamins will end up suffering from micronutrients malnutrition, a reason why he said his firm embarks on the Food Fair project to educate the general public.

“Satisfaction is achieved when you eat food and the food is able to deliver essential micronutrients and vitamins that your body requires for a healthy living. Most of the foods that we eat in our environment are deficient in these micronutrients and vitamins and that is what HarvestPlus is out to solve with the biofortified crops.”