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35TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE AND GENERAL MEETING COMMUNIQUE

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35TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE AND GENERAL MEETING COMMUNIQUE

1.0 PREAMBLE

The 35th Annual Conference and General Meeting of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST) took place in Makurdi, Benue State, “The Food Basket of the Nation”, from 10th – 14thOctober 2011.

The Conference with the theme “Value Addition to Nigerian Food Raw Materials: A Panacea for National Food Security and Poverty Reduction” drew over 500 participants from Government Ministries/Agencies, Tertiary Institutions, Industries, Research Institutes, the press and the general public across the entire Nation.

2.0. OBSERVATIONS

The conference observations were as follows:

2.1 Nigeria looses in excess of 10 million tonnes of grain equivalent of food per annum conservatively estimated at over N825 billion per annum to spoilage and wastage occasioned by the lack of post harvest management.

2.2 According to the 2010 MDG report, 29% to 33% of Nigerians lived below the poverty line/ hunger threshold between 2000 and 2009.

2.3 The infrastructure in Nigeria being grossly inadequate or non-existent constitutes a major cause for huge post-harvest losses, estimated at 40% of the produce.

2.4 Major constraints to value-addition are lack of appropriate technology, inconsistent quality, poor linkages between producers and processors, limited access to funding and inadequate infrastructure

2.5 Critical challenges of food security and poverty reduction include inability to orient production, marketing and distribution towards the consumer needs and preferences.

2.6 Nigeria ranks as the world’s highest producer of cassava with about 34 million metric tonnes per annum yet the position of this country as a producer of cassava starch, flour, chips, pellets and other derivative products is almost non-existent globally.

2.7 Rice and other traditional cereals have the potential to be produced in appreciable quantities for domestic consumption and for export given the enabling environment.

2.8 Lack of application of Food Biotechnology tools to the Nigerian Agricultural sector hinders the achievement of food security and poverty reduction.

2.9 The improper use of inputs such as hazardous agro-chemicals and inappropriate packaging materials is counter-productive and poses environmental and health threats.

2.10 Small and medium scale enterprises face challenges including lack of capital, difficult marketing/economic environment as well as difficulties of adapting to the modern technology required to overcome the challenges posed by climate change.

2.11 Youth unemployment estimated at over 20% of the labour force is one of the major drivers of poverty problems in Nigeria

2.12 Inconsistencies in Government policies on importation, tariffs, waivers, local content and

standardization have made it difficult to establish agro-based businesses in Nigeria.

3.0 RECOMMENDATIONS

The Conference recommends as follows:

  • The Bill for the establishment of the Nigerian Council of Food Science and Technology presently awaiting Presidential assent should be signed into law without delay to ensure that only properly trained and registered professionals are involved in critical points of the Nigerian food supply chain.
  • The Present Ministries of Agriculture at the Federal and State levels should be renamed as Ministry of Food and Agriculture in order to emphasize the need for post-harvest management and value addition.
  • The renamed Ministries of Food and Agriculture should establish a Department of Post Harvest Technology at the Federal level and Divisions of Post Harvest Technology for States with the appointment of qualified and experienced Food Technologists as Directors.
  • Each Local Government and State ADP should appoint at least one Professional Food Scientist/ Technologist as an Agro- Processing Extension Officer.
  • Food Science and Technology Youth Corpers should be mobilized as agro-processing officers in each Local Government.
  • Relevant Organizations such as NIFST, Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO) and Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI) should collaborate to ensure the design and implementation of this arrangement.
  • Increased investment in Infrastructure (Power, Roads, etc) will aid in positively influencing value addition and poverty reduction in the long term.
  • Industrial Clusters can be used to enhance the capacity of SMEs to access funding, promote employment, wealth creation and food security.
  • The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) financing intervention programmes that include Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS), Interest Draw back Programme (IDP), the Entrepreneurial Development Centres ( EDCs), Small and Medium Enterprises Guarantee Scheme (SMECGS), etc deserve wider publicity sustainability and dedicated implementation in order to reduce youth unemployment and ensure vision 20-20-20.
  • NIFST recommends a stakeholders meeting to examine the desirability of banning the importation of rice in order to boost local production of same.
  • Linkage between Research Organizations and Industry should be strengthened through constant dialogue and funding to ensure value addition to agricultural raw materials for enhanced food security and sustainable development.

4.0 CONCLUSION

NIFST appreciates the numerous organizations that have made significant contributions to the success of this National Conference, in particular the Benue state Government, for fostering a partnership with her towards developing programmes and projects on food processing and general food security.

Dr. John Obiora Onoura…………………………………………………………… Dr. Kalep Bulus Filli

National President ………………………………………………………………………….National Secretary

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