The 34th Annual Conference and General Meeting of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST) was held at the Presidential Hotel and River State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt from 18th – 22nd October 2010. Food Scientists and Technologists from the Food industry, the academia, research institutes, government ministries, organizations and agencies, international organizations as well as prominent personalities including the Honourable Minister for Science and Technology, Prof. Mohammed Abubakar K’oje deliberated on a wide number of issues under the theme: FOOD SECURITY FOR PEACE AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN THE NIGER DELTA and made the following observations and recommendations.
1. The Niger Delta area of Nigeria has been plagued with social, economic and environmental setbacks resulting in prolonged civil unrest.
2. Prior to oil exploration, Niger Delta was a peaceful area with vast agricultural potentials.
3. Oil exploration and production in the area resulted in severe environmental pollution and degradation which led to the disruption of agricultural activities, the major source of livelihood for the populace. This situation has been worsened by the current climatic change.
4. Loss of the major means of livelihood led to unemployment, hunger, poverty and civil unrest.
5. Loss of agricultural activities including post harvest food processing worsened the unemployment and food insecurity.
6. Neglect in the provision of basic infrastructure in the area, retarded development of food industries that could have promoted the socio-economic growth.
7. Conference commends the initiative of the Federal Government in the establishment of the Niger Delta Commission (NDDC), the Ministry of Niger Delta as well as the Amnesty Programme as a means of bringing lasting peace to the area.
In view of the above observations, the conference hereby recommends as follows:
1. An accelerated implementation of the Niger Delta Development Plan.
2 Environmental remediation to restore and sustain agricultural productivity.
3. Creating enabling environment for agro processing industries to stimulate sustainable socio-economic growth.
4. Provision of infrastructure such as power, good roads and potable water to ensure sustainable agro processing industries in order to reduce the Nation’s dependence on oil.
5. The involvement of NIFST for the development and application of appropriate technology for the processing of indigenous food products in the Niger Delta.
6. The empowerment of women in agriculture and food processing in the rural communities of the Niger Delta through the provision of land, capital, extension services and other inputs.
7. While commending the Federal Government for the amnesty initiatives, we recommend the inclusion of food processing activities in the post amnesty programmes.
Dr. P. E. Okechukwu
Chairman Communiqué Drafting committee