FG laments Nigeria’s number one ranking in Africa’s malnourished children

The Federal Government has said over 25 million children in Nigeria are undernourished and stunted, with the country ranking number one in Africa and second globally, in terms of malnutrition prevalence.

Vice-President Kashim Shettima, who quoted the figures from UNICEF, said this at the inauguration of the National Dairy Policy in Abuja on Tuesday.

Shettima was represented by Senior Special Assistant to the President (Agribusiness and Productivity Enhancement), Dr Kingsley Uzoma.

According to him, the dairy policy is aimed at transforming the dairy and livestock sectors to achieve food and nutritional security.

He said that the dairy industry in Nigeria had a critical role in tackling this issue of undernourishment among children.

He said, “According to UNICEF, about 25 million children in Nigeria are undernourished and stunted, making our country rank number one in Africa and second globally, in terms of malnutrition prevalence. The dairy industry in Nigeria plays a critical role in addressing this issue, providing essential nutrients like vitamins; protein; magnesium; and calcium necessary for proper growth and development from infancy to adulthood.

“The demand for animal-source foods in Nigeria is driven by three major factors – population size, income per capita, and urbanisation. As our population grows, so does the demand for livestock products. However, despite this growing demand, our dairy sector faces significant hurdles including low productivity, inadequate infrastructure and limited access to markets.’’

He said that these challenges highlighted the urgent need for a comprehensive strategy to transform the dairy industry.

The vice-president said that the potential in Nigeria’s dairy sector was reflected in significant investments from both local and international firms.

He said that companies including FrieslandCampina WAMCO and Danone’s Fan Milk had launched extensive backward integration projects, with the aim of boosting local milk production and fostering a strong market for dairy products, among others.

Mr Shettima said that President Bola Tinubu would continue to support such laudable efforts by sustaining an enabling environment for the sustainable inflow of much needed capital and technology transfer.

He added, “We need not to rest on our laurels, greater investment in the sector and better regulatory frameworks are essential to support growth.’’

In a remark, the Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi, said that the dairy policy would increase food and nutritional security.

Mr Abdullahi assured that the Federal Government would support the milk collection centres and encourage the cooperative business in the country. He said that globally, cooperatives played a critical role in the dairy sector.

Mr Abdullahi said, “We need massive investment, there is a need to bring industry players together for growth and productivity.”

Earlier, in a presentation, Director, Animal husbandry Services, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Winnie Lai-Solarin, said that the Nigeria dairy sector in the 2000’s experienced significant development.

Mrs Lai-Solarin said this was aimed at enhancing local production, improving supply chains and reducing dependency on imported dairy products.


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