Steve Agbota

HarvestPlus Nigeria has put machinery in place to provide bio-fortified foods for over 200 million Nigerians in rural communities and malnourished vulnerable villages by 2030 as part of efforts to tackle hunger in the country.

The Country Manager of HarvestPlus, Dr. Paul Ilona, disclosed this while addressing members of the Food and Agriculture Writers Organisation of Nigeria (FAWON) during a training session on “Bio-Fortified Foods for Malnourished Nigerians” held at International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan. He said that in another 10 years from now, Nigeria’s population would have increased by about 40 per cent, hence providing bio-fortified foods to 200 million by 2030 would just be reaching 70 or 80 per cent of Nigerians.

He said although it is not an imposed target but an estimation of how the firm intends to affect the feeding and nutrition pattern of Nigerians with bio-fortified foods like maize, cassava and orange-fleshed potato.

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He explained that, “the organisation globally, is targeting one billion people but HavestPlus Nigeria is tasking itself to reach 200 million out of the number by 2030. To reach 200 million persons is not a joke. The question is not around supply; farmers are producing and the deliveries of raw materials to industries remain the primary challenge.

“If the railway system in Nigeria is working, it would have been a different story. Our railway system is not working, the road networks are terrible and the cost of transportation is high. By the time you move vitamin A maize from Kaduna to Lagos and the trailer is charging you N400,000, how much is the raw material itself? We know clearly that we have an environment that is faulty for agricultural development in Nigeria but we should be able to operate notwithstanding,’’ he added.

However, he hinted that the strategies the organisation planned to adopt is to engage many more mediums and large scale food processors who will become off-takers for the millions of farmers who are cultivating bio-fortified crops. Said he, “we think that if we strengthen that partnership, it is going to add a lot more value. We have identified quite a number of multinationals and national food companies in Nigeria who are bio-fortified friendly. We will ensure that industries have access to bio- fortified raw materials and the products find their way to our target population.