HarvestPlus, a global agricultural organization, works closely with Kaduna State Committee on Food and Nutrition (SCFN) to promote the uptake of biofortified crops enriched with micronutrients and vitamins.
The country manager i NigeriaMr Yusuf Fu‘ad, made this known in Zaria on Saturday, on the sidelines of a second quarter coordination and review meeting with local government business focal persons (NFPpp).
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the meeting was organized by PBC with support from United Nations children’s fund (UNICEF).
Fu’ad narrated NAN that HarvestPlus improves nutrition and public health by developing and promoting biofortified food crops rich in vitamins and minerals.
He said the organization was working with partners to fight hidden hunger by shelling staple food crops, bred to be rich in essential vitamins and minerals.
He explained that the biofortified and climate-smart crops sustainably improve the health, resilience and livelihoods of smallholder households and low-income consumers, thereby contributing to making food systems more nutritious and inclusive.
The country manager said that the organization has cooperated with SCFN to complement existing nutrition initiatives in the state by using the food-based strategy.
He explained that the organization has been working with seed growers and farmers in the state to grow thousands of tonnes of vitamin A maize, cassava and sweet potato.
He explained that extension officers were training and linking farmers on where to get the seeds and how to grow them, adding that iron-fortified millet would soon be introduced.
However, he said many of the produce were not consumed in the state but were sold to other states, depriving households of access to the nutritious crops.
“80 percent of the biofortified seeds are produced in Zaria; the farmers earn money from nutritious food but do not consume it.
“This made the partnership necessary to work closely with the committee and all the nutrition stakeholders in the nutrition area, so that every man, woman and child in the community can have access to the crops.
“What we want to see is that through the corps they grow and consume, they should be able to access micronutrients and vitamins that will improve their nutritional status,” he said.
Fu’ad that women extension workers from the Kaduna Agricultural Development Agency have been mobilized to conduct nutrition education and information at the community level targeting the women.
“This is because we realized that the opportunity does not come to the women in the communities, only the men take advantage of it,” he said.
He revealed that HarvestPlus, with funding from UK The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office would implement a program for scaling up climate-adapted nutritious crops through market systems.
He said the two-year project would be implemented during CanoeKaduna, Jigawa, Adamawaand Gombe states.
“Through the project, HarvestPlus will improve the climate, nutrition and economic resilience of smallholder households and consumers.
“This will be achieved by strengthening climate-smart biofortified markets to work more effectively for poor farmers, women and small-scale entrepreneurs.
“The program will create rural jobs, increase incomes, improve climate resilience and improve access to healthy food,” Fu’ad said.
Lauding the initiative, Malam Bashir Muhammad, Permanent Secretary, PBC, said the SCFN’s main role was to coordinate all nutrition activities in the state.
Muhammad told NAN that HarvestPlus has been implementing the project in the state for the past six years but without any linkage with SCFN to further drive the intervention in local communities.
“With the current partnership, we will work with the organization to ensure that most of the crops produced in the state are made available to the people to help tackle malnutrition in the state,” he said.
earlier, Linda Yakubudirector, development coordination, Planning and Budget Commission (PBC) had appealed to the organization to train the local government NFPs on the initiative and Fu’ad obliged.