The 38th Annual Conference and General Meeting of NIFST with the theme: Food Value Chains: Opportunity for Wealth Creation and Food Security, held in Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, from 13th – 15th October, 2014. It was attended by over 700 registered participants from Government, Academia/Research, Private sector/Industry/Trade, invited students of Food Science and Technology and related courses and the Press. After exhaustive deliberations on subject matters related to the theme participants agreed on the following observation and recommendations:
• That great market potential exist locally and internationally for Nigerian spices and seasonings. However, there are challenges of adulteration, yield, consistency, adequacy of regulation and standards that limit product quality and safety.
• It was noted that about 41% of Nigerian children under the age of 5 are stunted due to malnutrition. The Conference considered this unacceptable, in view of the abundant of locally available resource in the area agricultural produces, technology and expertise to correct the anomaly. There is need for the promotion of entrepreneurship in the utilization of these resources in order to ameliorate this high level of malnutrition, enhance critical wealth creation and sustained food security.
• That the Conference noted with satisfaction the Value Chain development approach through the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), especially in the area of rice, cassava, sorghum, soya bean and others.
• Despite the laudable goals and achievements of Agricultural Transformation Agenda, the Conference noted that there are still critical challenges especially in the area of power supply, rural road network, mechanization, transportation and storage.
• That entrepreneurial training on agribusiness should be value focus in order to enhance sustainability and consistent quality production.
• The seeming lack of synergy, collaboration, coordination or partnership among stake holders in the food value chain has been primarily responsible for the poor development of successful food value chain entrepreneurship.
• We need to change our food habits so as to eat what we grow.
• There is an urgent need for the country to put in place a legal frame work to regulate the training and practice of food science and technology profession. This will enable the definition and the upholding of professional standard of competence, integrity and ethical behavior among practitioners in line with international best practice and ensure that the critical control areas of our food supply chains are not in the hands of quacks and charlatans.
• The conference noted with appreciation the growing contribution of the Hon. Minister of Agriculture and his team and the landmark achievements of NIFST corporate partners namely, Coca Cola, Nestle, Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, Lisabi Foods, De-United, Dansa and many of SME’s in Food enterprises.
• As a matter of urgency, government should provide enabling environment for the private sector to grow entrepreneurship to provide affordable High Energy and Nutrition Safe Foods (HENS) using local raw materials.
• The problem of infrastructure decay in the country has become legendary. The conference recommends strongly that government would need to pay closer attention to implementation of programmes designed to solve the challenges and provide immediate and lasting solution. Otherwise, all laudable vision of present efforts will become a mirage.
• Great opportunities truly abound for viable agribusiness in Nigeria, government should have a paradigm shift in the existing youth empowerments programs. There is a need to develop innovative idea that will reorient the youths for sustainable agribusiness entrepreneurship.
• The inability of government to accent to the bill for the establishment of National Council of Food Science and Technology (NCFST) intended to regulate the Food Science and Technology profession and which was passed by the National Assembly in 2013 has left the practice of the profession to charlatans. This situation will continue to hinder the development of international best practice on food value chain as envisaged in the Agricultural Transformation Agenda. We therefore call on the National Assembly and the Executive arm of Government to urgently conclude the enactment of NCFST act.
• Stakeholders in the food value chain must recognize that synergy is a necessity for successful entrepreneurship. We therefore call on all stakeholder to engage in appropriate partnerships and seek professional advice when necessary for profitable and viable agribusiness.