COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE 45TH CONFERENCE AND ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING (AGM) OF THE NIGERIAN INSTITUTE OF FOOD SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (NIFST) HELD FROM 11TH-15TH OCTOBER, 2021 AT HALLYDAYS HOTEL AND RESORT, MAKURDI, BENUE STATE
The Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST) 45th Conference and Annual General Meeting (AGM) with the THEME: FOOD SECURITY AND SUSTAINABILITY IN A POST COVID-19 ERA. The Conference was well attended by participants and delegates from all walks of life including: the industries, academia, research institutes, policy makers, technocrats and regulatory bodies. The opening ceremony took place at the New Banquet Hall, Government House, Benue State. The President of NIFST, Prof. Maduebibisi Ofo Iwe in his welcome address highlighted the shift in food Security over the years, emphasizing the challenges and the need to do more to ensure Food and Nutrition Security and safety in this post covid-19 period. He further stated that the Covid-19 crisis has negatively affected societies and global economies which would affect the world as the fall outs from the crisis unfold. He stressed that countries have been forced to use local producers and also accumulate the products that the people commonly utilize. Benue state as the Food Basket of the Nation was called upon to take responsibility for adequate production, processing and distribution of quality and safe foods.
The keynote address delivered by the Deputy Governor of Benue State, Engr. Benson Abounu gave highlights on the effect of Covid-19 in Nigeria and the world at large. He stated the negative impact of covid-19 on food and nutrition security and ended with recommendations to enhance food and nutrition security as well as sustainable food supply systems. There were plenary and special sessions and exhibitions from individuals and industries at the conference.
THE OBJECTIVES OF THE 45TH CONFERENCE
The objectives of the Conference was to sensitise the public on the challenges of Covid 19 and its attendant consequences, and the need to focus on the health and wellbeing of all participants in the food value chain for a sustainable food security.
1) The pandemic has wrecked the gains made in previous years on food security and sustainability, while introducing new challenges
2) There has been an increase in disruption of the food value chain, resulting in acute hunger
3) In addition to the covid-19 crisis, the emergence of marauding herdsmen worsened an already bad situation. The killing and displacement of farmers who are the bedrock of the food chain has led to rising food prices, with high impact on the vulnerable population
4) There is an increased occurrence of hazards and foodborne diseases in foods and beverages in the Nigerian informal market
5) All stakeholders should be involved from the early stages of intervention programs to ensure the full cooperation of all involved in food safety. The incorporation of digital networking due to the covid-19 crisis has made this easier
6) The training and sensitization of street vendors and other stakeholders on food safety is paramount since over 90% of Nigerians patronize street foods
7) All approved food additives are safe as long as they are used in accordance with guidelines
1) The safety of and wellbeing of participants in the food value chain should be prioritized
2) There is a need to return to our local food producers and accumulate stocks of our staple foods, and step –up processing
3) Build resilient and sustainable food systems
4) Design social protection programs to arrive at balanced meals
5) The regulatory environment in Nigeria needs to be resuscitated
6) NIFST as a body should advocate that the Food Safety Policy and legislation be passed into law
7) Formulation of strong economic policies and decisions on food security matters should be based on research that reflects the current situation
8) The government has to anticipate the impact of the covid-19 crisis on vulnerable people and design or strengthen available social protection systems in order to regain the grounds lost in food security due to the pandemic
9) There is need to employ digital solutions to promote efficiency and sustainability in food distribution networks
The Institute is grateful to the President and Commander- in- Chief, President Muhammad Buhari, The Governor of Benue State, His Excellency, Dr Samuel Ioraer Ortom, the Deputy Governor Engr. Benson Abounu who was also the keynote speaker. The Coca Cola Company is appreciated for all their contributions to the success of the conference. Appreciation is also due to Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), The Distinguished Fellows, Conference delegates and Students for the success of the NIFST 45th 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.