TechnoServe launches project to address malnutrition in Nigeria

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Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much,” Helen Kelle, quoted by the Global Director, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Shawn Baker.

The above highlighted the thematic focus of the formal launching of the Strengthening African Processors of Fortified Foods (SAPFF) project, by TechnoServe at the Oriental hotels, Lagos, to address issues of nutrition in the country through food fortification.

Food fortification, widely identified as a cost-effective strategy for addressing malnutrition on a larger scale, has economic benefit outcomes if efforts are committed towards the cause. This point was stressed on as a catalyst towards improving nutrition in Nigeria and in Africa.

Delivering a presentation on “Connecting Nutrition, Health, Agriculture, Private Sector to Economic Growth and Development”, Baker, said:

Shawn Baker, Global Director, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Photo: AgroNigeria)

“When we deprive children of essential nutrients, even if they survive, we’re setting them up for failure in the future, which ultimately affects the growth of the country. We cannot have a bright future for Nigeria if we’re not ensuring adequate nutrition.”

In his keynote address, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Alhaji Aminu Bisalla said, “We must make our food processing sector profitable and committed.”

Alhaji Aminu Bisalla, Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (Photo: AgroNigeria)

On his part, TechnoServe President and CEO, William Warshauer said, “building the competitiveness of industries is something we take very seriously and aligns with our mission.”

“So we’re very privileged to be the lead implementing partner on the Strengthening African Processors of Fortified Foods project.”

The Country Director, TechnoServe Nigeria, Mr. Larry Umunna, expressed delight on the SAPFF project which he believed will achieve the needed success in addressing issues of malnutrition in the country.

“The SAPFF project is a big step towards improving the business case for nutrition in Nigeria. With the support from government and other development agencies both locally and internationally, we are sure to drastically reduce issues related to malnutrition,” he said.

Thereafter, short remarks by the Hon. Minister of Health, Hon. Minister of Budget and National Planning, Hon. Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Minister of Trade and Investment, followed the Formal Launch of SAPFF.

The SAPFF project in Nigeria is poised to witness a boost in its nutrition space, as various key government regulatory agencies, donor agencies, and other civil society organisations formally stated their commitment to building competitiveness of the Nigeria Food Processing industry in a bid to improving nutrition.

Working with 40 leading food processors in Nigeria (along with more than 50 companies in Kenya and Tanzania), SAPFF will address barriers to regulatory compliance and gaps in technical knowledge which will further enhance the business case for nutrition through food fortification.

The Regional Director for SAPFF, TechnoServe, Mr. Rizwan Yusufali said, “To ensure improved nutrition, our approach is to take a broader view and to look at food processing more holistically.”

Rizwan Yusufali, Regional Director for SAPFF, TechnoServe (Photo: AgroNigeria)

He made reference to strategies – from tariff problems to waste reduction, that will offset the fortification costs to companies. “It’s a collective effort – there is no single entity that can successfully realise food fortification,” said Rizwan.

The four-year, $10 million SAPFF project is funded by the Gates Foundation, and implemented by TechnoServe in collaboration with Partners in Food Solutions (PFS), the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and other non-profit and government partners.

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