The 40th Conference/AGM of NIFST was held at the Coronation Hall, Government House, Kano, Kano state from the 24th to 26th October, 2016. The conference theme is “Innovations and Upgrades for Food Value Chain Competitiveness in Nigeria”. The Conference was attended by more than 1,000 participants from different countries of the world drawn from the academia, Captains of industries, top government functionaries, agencies of government, public and private organizations; also members of the West Africa Association of Food Science and Technology (WAAFoST) and other foreign dignitaries were in attendance. The Conference featured robust plenary, technical, training and interactive sessions. The Conference was declared open by His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Kano State Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, OFR, Khadimul lslam ably represented by His Excellency, the Deputy Governor Prof Hafiz Abubakar, FNIFST, MFR. Other dignitaries that attended the Conference include the Chairman, NIFST Board of Trustees and former Governor of Adamawa State Vice Admiral Murtala Nyako (RTD.), Director General, Federal Institute for Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), Dr. Gloria Elemo, Kano State Commissioners of Finance, Agriculture and Health, and the Vice Chancellor, Bayero University, Kano.
At the end of the Conference and AGM the Congress of NIFST made the following observations and recommends as itemised below:
The Congress of NIFST observed as follows:
1. The Nigeria Food and Agriculture operational environment has neither encouraged nor sustained innovations in the Agricultural/ Food value chains.
2. It has also been noted with appreciation the current fight against corruption by the present Government. It is worthy of note that corruption has tremendously affected adversely innovation and wealth creation in the agricultural/food value chain.
3. The recent campaign on self-reliance in food production if sustained will reduce the over dependence of Nigerians on imported food products.
4. Absence of sustainable innovations and upgrades which are the motive forces that drive value addition, competitiveness and entrepreneurship.
5. Low level foundry and technological input hindering the improvement and upgrading for Nigeria’s local food products development.
6. It has been observed with joy the giant strides being made by the Kano state and some other states of the federation in putting up machinery for innovative and improved agricultural system.
7. The failure to monitor key performance indicators has been the bane of government policies in agricultural/food sector.
8. The existing Food Safety Policy in Nigeria is sectorial and fragmented leading to overlaps and gaps, multiple jurisdiction by regulatory bodies, frequent confusion among the regulators and the regulated, uneven level of assurance of food throughout the country and poor consumer confidence.
9. The current National Food Safety Policy is not purposeful. This has led to our inability to meet obligations to international bodies, outbreak of food borne infections, poor competitiveness of Nigerian agricultural/food produce in the international market.
10. The failure to pass the Bill for an Act to establish the proposed Nigerian Council of Food Science and Technology is an impediment to empowering the relevant and appropriate professionals in assuring sustainable innovations and upgrades for food value chain competitiveness in Nigeria.
The Congress of NIFST recommends as follows:
1. Government should increase and sustain its effort to create enabling environment and well-articulated focused Policy direction in conjunction with major food value chain stakeholders such as the NIFST to drive innovation and self-reliance in food production.
2. Government is encouraged to intensify and sustain its current fight against corruption, especially, in the agricultural/food sector in order to enhance innovations and ensure food security in Nigeria.
3. There should be clear performance measurement standards to appraise government policy outcomes especially in the agricultural and food sector.
4. There is need for high level foundry and Technological input to ensure sustainable upgrading of Nigeria’s local food products in the global market.
5. All the 36 states of the Federation should be encouraged by the Federal Government to engage in a modern and a robust agricultural system to ensure sustainable increased productivity in food production for the teaming population of Nigeria.
6. There is the need for institutional reforms to streamline the roles of different agencies involved in food safety and quality Policies this is to ensure effective monitoring and evaluation of foods by the relevant Agencies of the Government.
7. Food Safety Policy should be given a top priority in Nigeria as practiced in all developed nations of the world.
8. If the National Food Safety Policy is built on a solid foundation the outbreak of Foodborne diseases would be effectively controlled and properly managed in Nigeria, and there will be promotion of Nigerian food products in the global market.
9. Government should as a matter of urgency facilitate the passing into law of the Charter Bill for the establishment of the Nigerian Council of Food Science and Technology; this is to ensure the establishment of sustainable and manageable Policies towards sustainable Food Safety and Quality Management system along the food supply chain in Nigeria.
In conclusion, it is the wish of NIFST Congress the above Communiqué would be looked into and fully implemented by the three levels of the Government, as appropriately applicable, so that sustainable innovations and upgrades for food value chain competitiveness can be guaranteed in Nigeria.
Siraj Muhammad Funtua, (MNIFST, MIFST, UK)
(National Publicity Secretary)