Expert calls for healthy food cultivation in Nigeria


By Chidinma Ewunonu-Aluko

Ibadan, Oct. 16, 2020 Dr Abayomi Olaniyan, Executive Director, National Horticultural Research Institute, Ibadan, says it is imperative for the country to increase agricultural productivity by cultivating healthy food that is diverse in nature.

Olaniyan made the remark in an interview with newsmen on Friday in Ibadan as the world marks 2020 Food Day, with the theme “Grow, nourish, sustain together. Our actions are our future,”.

He said it is important for Nigeria to intensify efforts in cultivating commodities in which it has comparative advantage particularly as the World is dealing with the widespread effect of COVID-19 pandemic.

Olaniyan said it has become imperative that everyone that recovered from the pandemic must have access to good, safe, healthy and nutritious food.

He noted that the country is blessed and have comparative advantage in the production of a number of crops such as plantain, banana, cassava, maize, tomato, among others.

Olaniyan added that there is need to prioritize healthy food system and sustainable agriculture in order for the country to grow together in a sustainable way.

He said that it is crucial for the populace to have access to quality food to prevent poor health and a number of diseases.

“In order to achieve the above, sustainable agriculture must be promoted, small scale farmers must be trained and empowered because they form higher percentage of those producing food for the country.

“There must be improved access to cultivable land and technologies that will improve agricultural value chain.

“There should be promotion of improved agricultural technologies that may lead to increase productivity such as improved seeds and seedlings, appropriate soil management practices, and adoption of improved practices

“We need improved irrigation infrastructure to facilitate all year cultivation of crops.

’’Huge volumes of tomato, onions, pepper and varieties of leafy vegetables can be produced with availability of irrigation facilities,” Olaniyan said.

He expressed the need for promotion of integrated pest management to minimize use of chemical pesticides due to the side effects on the environment.

“Also, reducing food wastages is crucial in order to maximize the benefit of the comparative advantage the country has in the production of a number of crops.

“Presently, post-harvest loss in the country is between 50-100 per cent depending on the commodity.

“Curtailing these losses shall go a long way in achieving improved nutrition, food security and sustainable agricultural development,” Olaniyan said.

According to him, capacity building and empowerment of smallholders farmers especially women in agricultural value chains should also be considered.

Olaniyan expressed the need for promotion of sustainable agriculture through adoption of improved technologies.

Naija247news reports that, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) marks October 16 of every year as World Food Day and the 2020 edition also coincides with the 75th anniversary of FAO.

Initially, World Food Day was launched to commemorate the establishment of FAO and gradually, the day turned into a global event, creating awareness about food shortage and reviving food systems across the globe.