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World Food Day: FAO DG seeks healthy, affordable diets

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(NAN)The Director General, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Qu Dongyu, has called for healthy, sustainable, accessible and affordable diets for everyone.

Dongyu made the call in Tudun-Wada, Nasarawa State, at the 11th edition of the Agricultural Show and Exhibition to commemorate the 2019 World Food Day. The theme for this year is “Our Actions are our Future. Healthy Diets for A #ZeroHunger”.

He said that the 2019 world food day was focused on healthy diets and that eradicating hunger was FAO’s top priority.

Dongyu, who was represented by the Nigeria Country Director of FAO, Dr Suffyan Koroma, however, noted that all forms of malnutrition had to be addressed.

He said, “the latest data shows that malnutrition is increasing across all regions and income groups.

“In Nigeria, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in adults keep increasing and it is currently 7.8 per cent.

“One in three children is stunted and underweight is currently at 19.9 per cent, which is higher than the globally accepted numbers. Overweight and obesity in adults are on the rise and 48.5. per cent of women of reproductive age are anaemic.

“World Food Day 2019 calls for action to make healthy and sustainable diets accessible and affordable to everyone.”

He noted that to make healthy and sustainable diets accessible and affordable to everyone, partnerships were fundamental.

He pointed out that farmers, governments, researchers, the private sector and consumers all had roles to play.

“Farmers need better incentives to increase and diversify the production of high quality food.

“Governments need to adopt policies, food standards and regulations that prioritise the availability and affordability of safe and nutritious foods.

“Research institutions need to provide the best scientific advice and push the boundaries of knowledge and technology.

“The private sector can positively influence the food environment by adapting its product to modern nutritional recommendations.

“Individuals also need to think about their food choices and eating patterns through awareness and learning,” he said.

The director general pledged FAO’s continued support to its member countries in their efforts to make sustainable healthy diets a reality for all.

He said that FAO, as a knowledge organisation, would strengthen the capacity of countries to evaluate and monitor the nutrition situation, supports knowledge transfer and provides food standards.

He added:  “we also want to increase the production and consumption of high quality foods through investments in agriculture regulatory frameworks, technologies and innovations.

“Food system transformation requires strong political commitment for collective synergy and a holistic design of agriculture and food chains strategies.

“For FAO, nutrition indicates health, productivity and overall wellbeing of people and prosperity of the societies. Let us commit to a nutrition for a happier healthier and better life.”

Meanwhile, the Chairman, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Kabir Ibrahim, has commended the Federal Government for its focus on agriculture in its diversification bid.

He further commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the various interventions aimed at repositioning the agricultural sector as well as the recent closure of borders which, he said, was beneficial to Nigerian farmers.

While pledging on behalf of Nigerian farmers to continue to play active role in ensuring food sufficiency and food security in the country, Ibrahim pleaded with the government to keep up the momentum.(NAN)

CJM//ETS

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