Over 59m Nigerians are macronutrient deficient – USSOY
The high rate of protein deficiency in the country has been described as a national pandemic and a huge drain on her human capital.
The United States SOY Country Representative for Nigeria and Sub-Sahara Africa, Dr. Michael David, who disclosed this at the fourth Soy Excellence Centre (SEC) Advisory Council Meeting, in Lagos, lamented the low protein consumption across Nigeria with a protein per capita daily intake, which is lower than the global standard.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), more than 59 million Nigerians are macronutrient deficient and about 45 per cent of deaths among children under the age of five are linked to malnutrition.
Research has revealed that protein is a basic nutrient needed for the development, upkeep, and repair of body cells. Protein deficiency in Nigeria does not only pose a major health burden, but also stunting, mental hindrance (especially in infants), surliness, and crankiness.
According to David, to overcome this challenge, the Nigerian government has the leading role to play, just like the private sector like U.S. SOY will also play a critical role in ensuring that the country overcomes the lingering problem of protein deficiency.
He added that part of what U.S. SOY is doing in Nigeria to help address the problem is the establishment of the Nigeria Soy Excellence Centre (SEC), which is a workforce training and capacity building programme to help drive efficiency in the soy value chain — poultry, aquaculture and human consumption among others.
David added that currently, SEC provides training and capacity building in poultry production, feed milling, agronomy, and aquaculture, noting that the centre trains key practitioners who will in turn take the knowledge back to their organisations to improve efficiency and achieve better productivity.
According to him, efficiency in the value chain will result in farmers producing at lower cost, stabilized prices, and improving access to protein.
He revealed that SEC Nigeria has already trained over 250 stakeholders in its first year of operation and will double the figure in 2022 with the coming on stream of feed mill and aquaculture tracks.
According to him, “Protein deficiency is a national pandemic in Nigeria which requires concerted efforts of all stakeholders. Through the Soy Excellence Center, U.S. SOY is committed to helping Nigeria address the challenge through capacity building.”