By Oluwakemi Oladipo
Lagos, July 29, 2020 Prof. Adegbola Adesogan of Animal Nutrition, has urged both the Federal and State Governments to tackle food wastage to prevent Nigeria from sliding into food crisis.
Adesogan, also Director, Livestock Systems Innovation Laboratory, Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences, University of Florida, U.S, made the plea at the 10th Lagos State University (LASU), virtual public lecture on Wednesday in Lagos.
Theme of the public lecture was: “Challenges and Opportunities for Ensuring Food Safety in Post COVID-19 Era”.
Adesogan said that government at all levels needed to put in place the necessary infrastructure to hinder the problem of food wastage in order to prevent the country from sliding into food crisis.
According to him, one of the biggest challenges facing the world during this COVID-19 pandemic is food crisis.
“It is not by lack of food, but lack of accessibility and affordability of food.
“The pandemic has disrupted both the demand and the supply of food, leading to a surge in the cost of food items in many parts of the world.
“This has led to a situation where many countries are experiencing unprecedented increase in food prices with pervasive hunger in many third world nations,’’ Adesogan said.
He said that there was tremendous food wastage in some parts of the world where factories, schools and markets shutdown were forcing manufacturers to get rid of unsold products.
“To tackle the impending problem of food shortage, government should stabilise food prices and subsidise prices of nutrients rich foods.
“Increase income support, food aid and social protection for the needy, improve infrastructure for food distribution and storage and sow seeds of recovery by providing support for farmers, amongst others,” Adesogan said.
Also, Dr Adebimpe Onifade, Managing Partner, Echo Consulting Group, New Jersey, America, said that Nigeria was capable of achieving wealth and food security with some refocussing, realignment and repositioning.
Onifade said that training of future graduates on how to commercialise agriculture, know agriculture curriculum and emphasis on apprenticeship were the way forward.
“The length and content of training being offered by schools to practitioners should be re-examined with more focus on practical and apprenticeship programmes.
“Food is critical to survival, so agriculture is a wealth but I don’t know the mechanics behind it.
“Even, it is a risky business, science technology and new methods of doing things are giving better ways to control agricultural input, process and output,” he said.
Also, Dr Sunday Akinyemi, Director, Research, National HorticulturAkinyemi rch Institute, Ibadan, said there was need to support farmers and put in place necessary infrastructure to prevent food wastage.
Akinyemi said that the need for proper education, which might include a change in curriculum, investment in demand-driven and practical research, provision of adequate market information were very important.
“Nigeria is one of the top producers of plantain and banana in the world.
“We produce 3.2 million metric tons of the crops annually, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) 2017 reports.
“Sadly, we do not export the produce to international markets due to some problems.
“If harnessed, plantain and banana have the potential to be a huge income earner for individual farmer and the government.
“We need to identify the value chain and money making stages of banana or plantain as planting, orchard management, harvesting and bunch sales or processing,” he said.
On her part, Dr Khadeejah Kareem-Ibrahim, Department of Animal Science, School of Agriculture, LASU, warned that food security was one of the biggest challenges currently confronting the world.
Kareem-Ibrahim added that food production had to grow by 70 per cent to cater for the world population, which was predicted to reach 10.5 billion people by 2050.
“One of the major ways of strengthening food security is by reducing food losses; food wastage in tropical weather such as Nigeria, is as high as 40-50 per cent according to FIIRO (2017).
“Post-Harvest Loss (PHL) is the measurable, quantitative and qualitative food loss in post-harvest system, comprising interconnected activities from the time of harvest through processing, marketing and food preparation.
“On the way forward of food security, growing varieties of crops that are tolerant to the prevailing climatic conditions and adopting better agronomic practices that increase soil moisture-holding capacity are important,” she said.