With National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)’s reporting headline inflation rate of 17.33 per cent for February, stakeholders in the food sector have warned that the inflation report poses severe risk to combating protein deficiency in the country.
They stated this during the organised protein challengeNG webinar Series 8: The Nigeria protein deficiency awareness report 2020: “Unlocking the numbers, Exploring the issues.” Delivering a paper titled: “Exploring the issues behind protein deficiency in Nigeria,” Dr. Beatrice Chinyem Oganah-Ikujenyo of the Department of Home Economics, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Oto/ Ijanikin, Lagos, explained that studies had confirmed that the main nutritional problems in Nigeria are inadequate protein and micro-nutrients such as Vitamin A, iron and iodine amongst other nutritional and healthy problems.
According to her, the reasons behind these maybe traced to socio-economic, cultural and political factors. She noted that with skyrocketing unemployment rate and inflation rate in the country, protein deficiency would even become worse as Nigerians would not be able to afford food intake due to the rising cost of foodstuffs going up already. Oganah-Ikujenyo further explained that another core issue facing the alleviation of protein deficiency in Nigeria included poor knowledge of food and feeding habits, poverty, high cost of animal protein, culture/ superstitions (used to consuming starch/ children are largely given large meat/ fish portion).
On government’s role in reducing protein deficiency in the country, the don said that there would be genuine political will to provide rural infrastructure (power, roads, water and markets) that will encourage youth to venture into farming of legumes and animal husbandry, interest free loans with long moratorium to enable stability and sustainability of agribusiness, among others.
Speaking as a panelist on reviewing the 2020 report on Nigeria’s protein deficiency, Prof. Adetunji Kehinde, Provost, College of Agriculture, Osun State University, Osun State, explicitly pointed out that the report was good but could have captured more population sampling as the ones in the report were low tracing it to budget reasons.