Why government should prioritise food science


Prof. Gloria Elemo, the Former Director-General, Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO), has urged the Federal Government to give priority to food science in order to solve food security challenges in the country.

Elemo made this appeal at the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST) Lagos Chapter 10th Regional Food Science and Technology Summit/ NIFST Day Technical Paper presentation opening ceremony in Lagos.

The theme of the event was, “Attaining Sufficient, Safe and Healthy Food for Nigerians through Food Science and Technology”.

Elemo, who is also a Professor of Biochemistry at Lagos State University of Science and Technology (LASUSTECH), said that the science of food must be given respect if the government wanted to surmount the issue of food insecurity in Nigeria.

According to her, food science involves the application of scientific principles and techniques to understand and improve the production, processing, and distribution of food.

Speaking on the theme of the event, Elemo said that the topic could not have come at a better time when Nigeria was experiencing food insufficiency.

“Presently we are wallowing in unsafe food practices, because of the present skyrocketing inflation.

“We are currently having reduced purchasing power to obtain healthy foods and this has led to acute hunger lingering in the air.

“Food science plays a crucial role in addressing these challenges and ensuring food security in Nigeria.

“This is a clarion call on NIFST to stand up to rescue our dear country Nigeria,” she said.

The professor noted that there was an urgent need for action as food scientists to put out their expertise across the country to help the federal government.

She also urged the government to implement some of the policies that researchers had come up with to make food security better in the country.

“While I was at FIIRO, the institute came up with a lot of policy directions and many research results that could benefit the country, but the government is yet to implement most of them.

“The science of food has not been put in its proper position in this country, if not most of the issue of unsafe foods and hunger could have been averted.

“We need to make use of what we have to feed the nation and stop importing unsafe foods into the country,” she said.

Citing examples, Elemo said that in American and Europe as a continent during economic crisis, they usually sustained themselves because there was always food, noting that they adopted policies to cushion the issue of food.

The professor stressed that there was urgent need for collaboration between the government, industry and academia to solve the present food crisis.

On other solutions, she proposed that the government should establish food and agro-allied processing and skill acquisition/training centres in universities and local governments.

She said that the centres should address post-harvest losses, which would occur with massive food production.

Elemo said that other areas the centre could address included proliferation of Small and Medium-scale Enterprises, job and wealth creation, food/nutrition security and waste management/value addition. (NAN)(ww

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