The Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST) 44th Conference and Annual General Meeting (AGM) tagged ‘THE SUMMIT’ with the theme: “Agro and Food Processing for Wealth Creation: The Nigerian Experience” had over 300 conference delegates and over 200 virtual participants from the industries, academia, research institutes, policy makers, technocrats and regulatory bodies among others. International participants from West African countries, South Africa, Canada and Europe were also present. The conference had a total submission of one hundred and fifty (150) abstracts with 26 papers presented physically and virtually via zoom. The conference served as a platform to reiterate the call of stakeholders for a backward integration system in the food and agro allied industry. There were plenary sessions and exhibitions from various industries at the conference. There was also an investiture of five (5) new Fellows and induction of one thousand eight hundred and four (1,804) new members.
Furthermore, the conference was chaired by the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar A. Rasheed (MFR) duly represented by Alhaji Ibrahim Umar Yakassai. The keynote address was delivered by the CEO/MD Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, Mr Paul Miyonmide Gbededo who buttressed on full adoption of food industrial backward integration system and local content development which was in alliance with the goodwill message from the conference Chief Host, Hon. Minister of Science & Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu. Other dignitaries in attendance includes: Former Deputy Governor of Kano State, Prof. Afeez Abubakar, The DG, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. (Mrs) Moji Adeyeye; The Acting DG, Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO) Dr. (Mrs) Yemisi Asagbra; The Chief Agro Industry Officer, Agro Industry Department- African Development Bank (AfDB), Abidjan, Dr Damian Ihedioha; DG Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Pharm. Saleh Faruq, ably represented by Dr. (Mrs) Omolola Okunlola; NIFST First Female President, Mrs Dolapo Coker, who gave the pioneer Award to the Best Female Graduating Student in Food Science and Technology (2018/2019), Miss Kofoworola Agoro (the recipient) of Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH) by the Dolapo Coker Foundation; Project Manager, BASIC II, IITA, Prof. L.O Sanni and other Distinguished Fellows of the institute present.
Mr Oluwole Toye, in his welcome address and account of stewardship as the outgoing President of the Institute buttressed the need for a defined strategic structure inherent in the establishment of the Nigerian Council of Food Science & Technology (NCFST) Act Cap A2 LFN of 16th October 2019 signed into law by the President and Commander- in- Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari. He further highlighted on a current partnership project between NIFST and Wageningen University and Research (WUR), Netherlands, a collaborative project on Street Food Safety (SFS) in addition to other activities of the Institute in the last one year.
Furthermore, goodwill messages were delivered by Technoserve, Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO), Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), West African Seasoning Co. Ltd, producer of Ajinomoto; University of Mkar, Benue State, National Universities Commission (NUC) and Micronutrient Lab Limited.
THE OBJECTIVES OF THE 44TH CONFERENCE WERE AS FOLLOWS:
- Sensitizing stakeholders of the food and agro allied industries on promotion of proven technologies to reduce postharvest losses and alleviate food insecurity in Nigeria
- Promoting sustainable quality seeds for improved yield to enhance food production, inputs demands and processes which will not only be domesticated but also boost competitive exports of raw and processed food products
- Encouraging full implementation of the Government economy diversification plan into reintegrated commercial agricultural scheme for Nigeria to become a food self-sufficient country
- Reinforcing the collaborative partnership between NIFST and other regulatory bodies on standards and policies in the food industry
- Inspiring SMEs to embrace value addition on indigenous foods to generate wealth and as well contribute to the nation’s gross domestic product( GDP) earnings
- Providing technical information that will assist Government in policy formulation toward sustainable food security
- Calling for a review of curriculum for the training of Food Science and Technology and allied professionals with appropriate stakeholders
- Providing a framework for legislative activities geared towards enhancing food laws and regulation in Nigeria
The following observations were made at the end of the conference:
- The Nation’s food security is depleting as Nigeria food consumption grows with increasing trend of growing population with low food production
- High cost of farm produce for processing due to low yield arising from unsustainable seeds with low quality
- The COVID-19 pandemic affect planting season of farm produce leading to insufficient raw materials for processing leading to shutdown of some food industries
- Government policies hindering SMEs in food industry sector due to unfavourable business environment
- Inadequate infrastructure for food sector
- Low practice of commercial agriculture leading to insufficient harvested agricultural products for processing
- High level of malnutrition in children under five (5) years and women due to low fortification/enrichment of processed foods and unbalanced diet
- The continuous use of some sensory evaluation methods such as the 9-point hedonic scale which has become obsolete in other parts of the world
- Insufficient public enlightenment on the need to include fruits and vegetables in their diets to derive essential micronutrients, this will be driven by the street foods champions
- Low level of utilization of food wastes for transformation into other by-products that could serve as wealth creation
- High cost of domestically fabricated food processing equipment
The following recommendations were made:
- Paradigm shift from traditional to commercial agriculture
- The Federal Government should increase the budgetary allocation to agricultural sector at the national and state level to about 25% of the total national budget as recommended by FAO
- Street food vendors are enjoined to add more quality green leafy vegetables to vended foods to encourage its consumption
- Government and stakeholders should put up more enlightenment and sensitization on safety of street vended foods (Street Foods)
- More collaboration and networking amongst key stakeholders namely Industries, Ministry of Agriculture, Higher Educational Institutions and Research Institutes in traditional food development and improvement
- Full implementation of backward integrated system in the food and agro allied industry for sufficient production of raw material inputs to enhance efficient production system
- Nigeria food processors should support adoption from strong regulation to self-regulation with regards to quality and standards product regulations
- Promotion of professional networking forum among industries, academia and research institutes to foster protection of intellectual properties
- Government should focus more on providing the enabling environment and infrastructure to support industries, create hub for development of locally created technologies to enhance indigenous food processing
- Value addition to locally sourced food produce should be encouraged to increase local food production and export promotion of processed food for enhanced GDP
- SMEs should leverage on Federal government and other international organisation relief projects to alleviate food security and make Nigeria self-sufficient in food production
The Institute is grateful to the President and Commander- in- Chief, President Muhammad Buhari, The Governor of Lagos State, Mr, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the DG, Lagos State Safety Commission (LSSC), Mr. Lanre Mojola for providing us an enabling environment that led to the success of this conference amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and our Chief Host, the Honourable Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar A. Rasheed; CEO/MD Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, Mr Paul Miyonmide Gbededo, the Keynote Speaker and DG- NAFDAC, Prof. (Mrs) Mojisola Adeyeye and all the Distinguished Fellows, Conference delegates and Students for the success of the NIFST 44th Conference and Annual General Meeting (AGM).The Institute also appreciates the effort of the local organising committee (LOC) members for making the conference a success.