A food scientist, Mrs Vera Eze, has advised Nigerians to always ensure consumption of safe foods to avoid sicknesses and diseases that could lead to death.
Eze, who is the Chairperson of the Abuja chapter of Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST), gave the advice while speaking with the Nigeria News Agency on Thursday in Abuja.
She observed that some of the foods consumed by Nigerians had the tendency to kill outrightly.
“Most of the foods we consume in Nigeria can kill outrightly, and this is alarming.
“It is the responsibility of food scientists to ensure that the foods we consume are safe.
”We are concerned with how our farmers cultivate their crops, to harvesting methods, to preservation and storage until they are ready for consumption,” Eze said.
She expressed the need for government to create silos and collection centres for farmers for effective regulation and distribution of foods in the country.
Eze advised Nigerians to buy unripe fruits and allow them ripen naturally because most fruits in the markets were ripened with dangerous chemicals.
She advised those who needed to ripen their fruits artificially to use ethylene gas which, she said, was safe for consumption.
“Most of the people who sell fruits these days ripen their fruits with carbide, which is a harmful chemical.
”I advise people to buy unripe fruits which they can ripen by themselves, using safe methods.
“Ethylene gas is one safe material to ripen fruits, it could be more expensive but it is safe,” Eze said.
The food scientist assured that NIFST was committed to ensuring that Nigerians stopped consuming poisonous foods capable of shortening their life spans.
”We intend to periodically bring stakeholders together to discuss challenges of food quality management and proffer solutions.
”It is part of our corporate social responsibility to ensure that all the impediments to safe food in Nigeria are identified and gradually removed.
“Our aim is to ensure that Nigerians no longer die from avoidable poisonous elements in the food they consume,” she said. (NAN)
Edited by Razak Owolabi/Muhammad Suleiman Tola
Food Security: OCP Africa reduces fertiliser price for 7,500 farmers in Niger
A leading fertiliser producer, OCP Africa, is selling NPK 20:10:10 fertiliser at a subsidised rate to 7,500 smallholder farmers in Niger as part of COVID-19 palliatives.
OCP Africa is one of the leading companies in the global production and exportation of phosphate-based fertilisers.
Mr Isaac Odey, Business Development Officer, OCP Africa, Nigeria, gave the figure while distributing the fertilisers in Lambata, Gurara LGA of the state.
Odey said that the gesture was to support the federal and Niger governments’ efforts in ensuring food security in the country.
“OCP Africa is supporting each farmer to access two bags of the PFI blended NPK 20:10:10 at N4,500 per bag in stead of N5,000 per bag.
”In Niger, 7,500 farmers will be reached through three fertiliser distribution outlets within agricultural producing zones, creating employment and empowerment for 71 people in stock management, training, extension service and produce offtake,” Odey said.
He said that the palliative was aimed at supporting smallholder farmers.
”This will help to mitigate the adverse impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the current farming season through distribution and access to subsidised fertiliser and other farm inputs,” the officer said.
He added that OCP Africa was also supporting farmers through training and extension services, access to markets and digital technology, in a bid to increase crop yield and ensure food security as the farming season commence.
Odey said that the outlets include Lambata, Zungeru and Bida which cut across the three senatorial districts of the state, adding that each outlet was entitled to 250 tonnes of NPK 20:10:10 fertiliser.
In his remarks, Alhaji Zakari Jikantoro, the state Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, lauded OCP Africa’s efforts to support farmers to boost their production.
Jikantoro, represented by Alhaji Suleiman Almustapha, Managing Director of the Niger State Agricultural Mechanisation Development Authority (NAMDA), said the state government would continue to collaborate with agro dealers to build capacity of extension staff and provide inputs for farmers.
“OCP Africa’s intervention is a commendable effort; as a government, we will continue to collaborate with any company ready to assist our farmers to increase production of crops, ” he said.
A beneficiary, Malam Hashimu Usman, also commended OCP Africa for the gesture.
“We are happy with OCP because, before now, we buy fertiliser for between N7,000 and N8,000 per bag, but today we are buying at N4,500.
“This will help boost our food production,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that OCP Africa is working with the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) of the Federal Government and blending plants under the Fertilizer Producers and Suppliers of Nigeria (FEPSAN).
The idea is to contribute to the PFI objective of providing access to locally-produced NPK 20:10:10 fertiliser for smallholder farmers.
Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Ijeoma Popoola (NAN)
Scientist urges African leaders to partner, liberate continent
A Singapore-based Nigerian biomedical research scientist, Dr Jonathan Obaje, has underscored the need for African leaders to work closely together, to ensure economic liberation of the continent.
Obaje, who is the Vice President, Nigerians in the Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), Singapore Chapter, gave the advice in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja.
Obaje said, “We only need few prominent persons to initiate and pull in prominent African Americans and Africans worldwide.
“All we need is to brand this as “fight to kill the real pandemic – Racism”. It is a moral and politically correct argument for a new world.
“This is not the time to talk about poor leadership in Africa, which itself is a product of racism.
“Those who will lead this battle to success will form the core of new generation African leaders and many mediocre leaders will be swept off in this transformation process.
“African Diaspora worldwide has a unique role to play in the actualisation of this liberation movement and nothing will be achieved if we all lay back as usual.”
He expressed the hope on the leaders to seize the opportunity to lead Africa and all who support the Africa liberation movement, saying this is African’s golden opportunity for real transformation.
He said that although it would take years for people to understand the connection between COVID-19 pandemic and Floyd-20 racism pandemic, more should be done to liberate the continent.
“Africa must recognise its golden opportunity to unite and seize the moment.
“Africans worldwide must now demand reparations for the many years of economic exploitation and psychological torture it has suffered and endured for 400 years.
“African leaders must come together to demand blanket debt cancellation across the board for Africa and Africanise companies, institutions and organisations operating in Africa.
“Establish 20 years ban on exportation of all natural resources from Africa and ensure that African raw materials are refined and processed in Africa before exporting,” he added.
He noted that African doctors, nurses, engineers and scientists proved to be as good, if not better than their foreign counterparts since the wake of COVID-19 in February.
Obaje, also a chartered chemist of the UK Royal Society of Science/Chemistry, advised Nigerians to shun negative thoughts and rather always think positive.
He is currently the chief executive officer of a transdermal drug delivery research company in Singapore.
Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)
Food Security: Scientist urges govt. to domesticate global technologies
Dr Rose Gidado, Scientist at Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) Nigeria chapter, gave the advise in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria , on Wednesday, in Abuja.
Gidado said this would avert disruptions to production and marketing systems, which often enhanced the resilience of farmers, while also cushioning the hardships experienced by vulnerable persons.
She noted that at this critical stage in Nigeria’s history, food was paramount and should be sourced from all available channels.
“For a nation to build, to become a developed nation, it should be able to feed its population, but we are still not able to do that.
“It is better we adopt appropriate technologies and localise them for use to develop our indigenous crops,’’ Gidado said.
Gidado, who is also a Deputy Director at National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), said Nigeria needed had no reason to fear domesticating foreign technologies because it was a globally acceptable practice.
According to her, the United States, Japan, China, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, India, and South Africa among others, who are termed food sufficient countries, became so by adopting other countries’ technologies.
“You can bring in a technology and turn it around to suit your own purpose with your scientists for genetic modification.
She decried the use of outdated local inputs such as hoes and cutlasses in farming, saying that would not take the country anywhere in its quest to attain food security.
She further stated that mechanisation and use of drones in application of chemicals by developed countries, was the way to go.
According to her, though manual chemical application is capital intensive, small holder farmers are already used to it.
Gidado said it was stressful for a farmer to carry chemicals on his back to spray a 400 hectare farmland when technology had help in reducing such labour, cost and health risks.
She therefore, said the use of digital technology and satellite imagery would help detect any occurring problem even in the middle of a 400 hectare farmland.
“We cannot remain stagnant and continue to stick to our `olden day’s’ tools as our population grows geometrically; we need to use any technology that we know can help us feed the teeming population.”
According to her, OFAB on its part was assisting farmers by linking them with seed companies to access improved seeds and farm inputs, especially at this period of COVID-19 pandemic.
Gidado said Genetically Modified (GM), technology could help in the area of nutrition security by designing crops with essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals that were used in boosting the body immune system, especially in children.
She assured farmers that they had nothing to lose by adopting GM crops because most of them often suffered losses in their farms due to insects infestations, weeding and other factors.
She recalled how farms in Kenya were recently invaded by locusts, leaving farmers struggling unsuccessfully to tackle the issue.
“So if we can engineer a crop to resist locusts, farmers will rush for it,’’ Gidado said.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Nyisom Fiyigon Dore (NAN)
Food security: Kwara assists farmers with tractors
The Kwara Government has flagged-off the distribution of tractors to farmers at subsidised rates as part of strategies to strengthen large scale farming in the state.
Mr AbdulQowiy Olododo, the Technical Assistant to the Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Agriculture, said on Tuesday at the flag-off ceremony at Lafiagi, that the gesture is aimed at boosting food security and lessen poverty rate in the state.
Mr Rafiu Ajakaye, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, in a statement said that the programme was under the state government “Tractorization Subsidy Scheme” to boost food production.
“The government is deploying no less than 50 tractors for distribution to farmers at N10,000 per hectare of land – about N6,000 less than the market cost of hiring the machinery from private firms.
“This is the first phase of our interventions to the farmers and we will move from tractorization to supplying input to the farmers – seeds and fertilisers – to boost yields.
“This is in fulfilment of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq’s electoral promise to support local farmers in the state.
“Secondly, we took this step because we are envisaging that there could be food shortage as a result of ravaging COVID-19.
“So, this is one of the ways we think we can upscale food production in Kwara State,” Olododo said.
He said that the initiative was to support both the subsistence and commercial farmers in the state to boost their production for this season.
The Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Job Creation, Mr Alhassan Aliyu, in the statement said that 50 tractors had been acquired by the government for distribution to all local government areas based on request.
Dr Jamila Bio-Ibrahim, member of the state Task Force on the Implementation of the Tractorization Subsidy Scheme and Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Sustainable Development Goals, said the scheme was in line with Goal Two of the SDGs which is eradicating hunger, improve nutrition and food security, and at the same time promote sustainable agriculture in the state.
She said agricultural mechanisation would improve yields, address nutrition issues and food security in the state.
Bio-Ibrahim urged the farmers to take advantage of the subsidised tractors to improve yields so as to encourage the government to do more.
Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, Mr Muhammad Shaaba-Lafiagi, thanked the state government for the initiative.
He said that the tractors would improve their production this year.
“It has been a very long time we got such support from the state government. This will help us greatly and bring development.
“We are optimistic that we will get more support from the government,” he said.
Edited By: Debo Oshundun/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)