COMMUNIQUE OF THE 39TH NIFST CONFERENCE /AGM, OWERRI 2015

Posted by Adaora Anozie

On November 4, 2015

The 39th Conference and Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST) held at the Imo Concorde Hotel, Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria between 13th and 16th of October, 2015. The theme of the Conference was “Industrialization; A pathway to Agribusiness Transformation”.

The Conference with over 500 delegates in attendance drawn from the academia, industry, public organisations and Government had in attendance dignitaries from foreign countries. The programme was declared open by the executive Governor of Imo State, His Excellency, Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha (MON), represented by the deputy Governor, His Excellency, Prince Eze Madumere. The occasion was graced by the Deputy Governor of Kano State, His Excellency, Prof. Hafiz Abubakar (MFR, FNIFST). The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele was equally among other notable dignitaries that graced the Conference.

The Conference observed as follows:

  • That current effort by some Government in the Federation to rehabilitate moribund agribusiness in Nigeria is a welcome development.
  • Average budget of less than 3.8% to Agriculture and food production and challenging land tenure hinders Agribusiness, (SMEs or Large Agribusiness).
  • That the problems of inadequate electricity supply, deplorable road conditions and poor transportation facilities remain great challenge to solving the problem of Food Industrialization.
  • That NIFST as a Professional body is not pleased with the slow development of the post- harvest segments of our agricultural commodity value chains and Food Industrialization generally which has  contributed to Nigeria  remaining  at the stage one of development according to the recent UN rating.
  • That a lot of food handlers lack appropriate knowledge of food safety but  the current efforts at inclusion of basic food hygiene and nutrition in Teachers Education Curricular is commendable.
  • That uncompetitive prices of locally produced goods arising from high interest charges on loans, unfavourable Government policies on taxes, levies, import and export regulation affects sustainability of local food entrepreneurship.
  • That there are significant advances and research findings on improved food products and processing technologies now available that can be adopted by SMEs for job and wealth creation in the economy.
  • That the failure to secure charter status  for Food Science and Technology Professionals is a great impediment to assuring food security, food safety and food industrialization. Optimal welfare of the citizenry can only be accomplished through a charter for the Food Professionals.

Recommendations:

  • The following recommendations were also made:
  • Government should endeavour to establish Food Scientific Officer cadre at all State and Local Government levels to promote the extension of advances and research finding available on improved food products and processing technologies.
  • Although there is an apparent improvement on electric power supply, but Government is encouraged to facilitate rapid and adequate supply of electric power as well as pay closer attention to road and transportation problems for continuous growth of food industrialization.
  • HQCF should not be promoted as a mono product for milling and baking industries alone, but diversified for use into other  products for enhanced profitability.
  • The Conference calls on the National Assembly to pass the bill for the establishment of the Nigerian Council of Food Science and Technology (NCFST).