By Ifeanyi Olannye
No fewer than 50 farmers, health workers, agricultural extension personnel from Delta, Ondo and Bayelsa States have been trained on good nutrition practices in Warri, Delta.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the two-day training programme, started on Wednesday, was organised by the Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises Project for the Niger Delta, (LIFE-ND) in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The theme of the workshop is “Nutrition Education and Product Development Training for Pro-nutrition Added Value Commodities for Farmers, Health and agricultural extension workers”.
Mrs Paula Omare, LIFE-ND Rural Institution Gender and Youth Officer in Delta, said the partnership with USAID was in line with LIFE-ND policies to empower its beneficiaries with proper and adequate eating habit to ensure healthy living while executing their daily activities.
She said that the Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Extension Services Activity of USAID, leverages the power on Nigeria entrepreneurship to facilitate learning, replicate and scale to increase access and adoption of improved agricultural technologies and practices for beneficiaries.
According to her, the USAID targets improving nutritional values for two million smallholder farmers in Benue, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Kaduna, Kebbi, and Niger States in five target value chains of rice, maize, soybean, cowpea and aquaculture.
While LIFE-ND, funded by the Federal Government, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) targets youths and women in repositioning of agricultural activities in Abia, Bayelsa, Edo, Delta, Cross River and Ondo States.
“LIFE-ND’s target is to empower the beneficiaries (Incubatees) using the Incubators model in four value chains of cassava, poultry, oil palm and aquaculture in Delta state.
“Mainstreaming nutrition in LIFE-ND project is consciously to promote nutrition-sensitive agriculture among the beneficiaries to ensure healthy lifestyle.
“The approach is to ensure the production of varieties of affordable, nutritious, culturally appropriate, and safe foods in adequate quantity and quality to meet the dietary requirements of the primary and secondary beneficiaries.
“Nutrition mainstreaming is aimed at enhancing food and nutrition security with targeted package of interventions for producers, processors, and consumers.
“This is expected to lead to improved year-round availability of and access to fruits and vegetables to poor households, enhance supply of pro-nutrition added and value commodities, increased fruit, and vegetable consumption,” she said.
Omare said that the ongoing activities were expected to be continuously carried out using the following approaches:-
“Nutrition education, nutrition study, Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF), Integrated Homestead Food Production (IHSFP), Value Added Product Development Pro-Nutrition (VAPDPN), Collaboration with research institutions and extension agencies and Time and Energy Saving Technologies for Women”.
She said that the essence of the training was informed by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) reports which shows that Nigeria has the second highest burden of stunted children in the world, with a national prevalence rate of 32 percent of children under five.
“The justification for the training, UNICEF report shows that Nigeria has the second highest burden of stunted children in the world, with a national prevalence rate of 32 percent of children under five.
“This impacts on the physical and cognitive growth of children and reduces productivity and the ability of household members to carry out agricultural work.
On her part, Mrs Chioma Obasi, Nutrition Consultant and Resource Person, said the train the trainers workshop was aimed at addressing the nutritional challenges in the country through adequate education and sensitisation of key players in the agriculture sector and the consumers to ensure health eating habit.
According to her, to eat right does not necessarily cost much if the consumers have the right information.
She advised people, particularly the poor households to eat whatever food that was in seasonal because it is usually cheap and with high nutritional value.
Some beneficiaries who spoke in an interview, Miss Ruth Ayebatari a LIFE-ND Incubatee from Bayelsa and Mr Tajudeen Ibrahim, Agricultural Extension Worker, Ondo State, lauded the sponsors for the programme.
They pledged to replicate the knowledge garnered on good nutrition habits in their communities and states of operation to promote adequate nutrition habits in the people.
NAN also reports that the beneficiaries would on Thursday engage in practical training on food processing, preparation and preservation methods to ensure retention of nutrients food.(NAN)