At a book launch titled “Biofortified Crops on my Plate” and organized by HarvestPlus Nigeria, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Mahmood, stated that of all Nigerian children, 37 percent are stunted due to lack of sufficient vitamin A, zinc, iron and iodine in foods. The Federal Government and HarvestPlus Nigeria expressed concern towards this situation – insufficient micronutrients in meals. Director of Tree Crops, Bernard Ukata, added that the nutritional condition in the country requires attention.
Less than fifty percent of Nigerian children consume foods that are rich in iron. As a matter of fact, there is a prediction that the percent of child stunting, wasting and micronutrients deficiencies would increase. However, there is a likelihood that the problems would be solved, given the existing collaboration between the FMARD and HarvestPlus in research, commercialization and multiplication of biofortified stable crops in Nigeria. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is also working relentlessly to offer solutions.
Recipes contained in the book include Nigerian biofortified staples.
Director of HarvestPlus in Nigeria, Yusuf Dollah Fu’ad, said that the book, Biofortified Crops on my Plate, contains practical and traditional dishes that have been appropriately adapted to give additional nutrition and curb malnutrition through biofortified foods. HarvestPlus, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Federal Ministry of Health and other development partners contributed to the development of the book. The recipes in the book include Nigerian biofortified staples like vitamin A (cassava, maize and orange sweet potato). When eaten regularly, they reduce micronutrient deficiencies and aid improvement of the health of women and children.
The Chief Nutritionist of HarvestPlus, Erick Boy, added that the recipe book testifies to the ability of food to nourish and heal with the hope that the book motivates people to include nutritious bio-fortified crops in their diets for improvement of their health and well-being. Biofortification, through conventional breeding, develops food crops for provision of more essential vitamins and minerals needed for good health. Micronutrient malnutrition remains a public health challenge in Nigeria; while one in three preschool-aged children have vitamin A deficiency, over 50 percent of Nigerian women are anemic.
Included in the book is over 50 recipes to meet needed daily nutrition.
Although traditional white non-biofortified cassava, sweet potatoes and maize are categorized among Nigeria’s most consumed staple foods, they are low in vitamin A which is a significant micronutrient. In Nigeria, these crops are believed to be good energy sources and nutritious foods with health benefits due to the adoption of yellow and orange biofortified types instead. The book by HarvestPlus and its partners is a means of providing nutritious and tasty ways for families to include crops enriched with essential nutrients into their daily meal.
Cookbook provides over 50 recipes which have been developed to meet the required daily nutrition of family members for provision of a variety menu through biofortified crops for the purpose of improving nutrient intake and reduction of malnutrition. The book is a must have for mothers, cooks, bakers, students, teachers, caregivers and food processors for the incorporation of biofortified vitamin A into their daily diets. It is likewise useful for researchers, agricultural value chain developers, health workers, development workers in agriculture and health sectors, extension agents and policymakers working to fight nutrition insecurity and poverty.
Consumption of biofortified crops reduces nutrient deficiency.
The society, with the inclusion of Nigeria, is a victim of hidden hunger which is lack of enough essential nutrients in the diet of a good number of the population. Most times, this is as a result of financial incapability and poor life-style choices like deliberate consumption of junk foods. Biofortified crops are grown for intentional improvement of the nutritional quality of staple food crops like grains and vegetables in order for their consumption to cause a reduction in nutrient deficiencies in citizens.