Speaking at the unveiling of the project in Lagos, recently, the Minister of Trade and Investment Okechukwu Enelamah said there is a need for government and local processors to collaborate to achieve the objectives of the project.
Although the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) has committed $10 million to the project in the sub-Saharan African region, Enelamah stated that the collaboration with local processors will increase competitiveness of nutritious foods and ensure Nigerians access quality foods to meet their daily dietary needs.
He was represented by the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Trade and Investment, Aminu Bisala.
The minister said there is a strong link between nutrition and economic development, noting that a World Bank report revealed that poor nutrition may reduce countries’ GDPs by three per cent.
The minister however added that government had been engaging the private sector players to increase quantity of affordable fortified foods in the market, with the aim to end stunting that is affecting 37 per cent of children under the age of five.
The Director of Nutrition for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in United States, Shawn Baker, said the intervention was necessitated by low technical expertise and compliance among food processors in three African countries – Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania.
He said the project was created to bridge the gap in compliance and promote technical assistance for the food industry to meet the government standards, as well as ensure that the success recorded for some food items is sustained.
According to him “Almost half of children that die in Africa yearly die because of lack of access to nutritious foods. stating that it has been established that fortified foods are essential for physical and mental development of children.