Presidents address 10th ReFoSTS

Posted by Obinna Anyanwu

On June 11, 2024
NIFST President Prof J. O. Abu


Distinguished Guests, Esteemed Colleagues, Members of the Press, Ladies and Gentlemen.

On behalf of the Governing Council and the entire members of NIFST, I bring warm greetings and welcome us to the 10th Regional Food Science and Technology Summit (ReFoSTS)/NIFST Day Celebration. ReFoSTS is an important conference of food professionals and critical stakeholders from the academia, industry and Government which holds across all NIFST Chapters prior to the annual national conference. This day, 6th June is also set aside every year to celebrate the founding members who started this formidable and impactful gathering of food professionals in June 1976. Beginning from this year, all NIFST Chapters are urged to honour our founding members further by listing their names in the ReFoSTS’ programme booklets. That comprehensive list which has been generated from the NIFST Secretariat and reviewed by some senior members of our Institute, has been circulated to Chapters.

As we gather to celebrate our collective achievements and forge new paths forward, I am pleased that this years’ theme; “Food Science and Technology for Sustainable Food and Nutrition Security” was carefully selected to help us focus on how best to deploy the field of FST in a multidisciplinary ecosystem to deliver food and nutrition security within Nigeria and beyond. It is a call to action for all stakeholders including government bodies, academic institutions, private enterprises, and international partners to collaborate in our shared mission towards ensuring the abundance of quality, safe and nutritious foods.

In the face of abundant natural resources and a rich agricultural heritage, Nigeria is still grappling with the challenge of ensuring that every citizen has access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food. Meanwhile, food security and nutritional well-being are fundamental human rights and represent the cornerstone of sustainable development. This partly explains why the role of food scientists and technologists is indispensable. While I am proud of our past collective strides in advancing FST within and beyond Nigeria, I look forward to the promise of what we can still achieve together with other stakeholders in our collective quest to bring all forms of hunger to an end in this country and beyond.

Recall that innovations continue to revolutionize the way we produce, process, and consume food. From the development of biofortified crops for the purpose of enhancing the nutritional value of staple foods, to the implementation of cutting-edge preservation techniques that reduce post-harvest losses, the field of FST continues to evolve to meet the ever-growing demands of food security for a burgeoning population. However, nutrition security goes beyond mere calorie intake and encompasses availability and access to diverse, nutrient-rich foods.

Through research, development, and deployment of existing and new technologies, food professionals must strive to enhance the nutritional profile of foods and scaling up of relevant innovations that make nutritious foods more accessible to every segment of our population.

As the challenges we face in achieving sustainable food and nutrition security are complex and interwoven, fostering collaboration among stakeholders is essential. In addition, Government policies must support research and innovation, provide incentives for sustainable practices, and ensure a favorable regulatory environment for the food industry. Academic institutions and research organizations must continue to lead in scientific research, development and innovation, providing the knowledge and tools needed to address current and future challenges. On the other hand, private sector partners, including food producers, processors, and retailers, must play the critical role of bringing innovations to the market and ensuring their widespread adoption.

Meanwhile, NIFST remains committed to supporting educational initiatives, professional development programs, and research endeavors that empower our members and stakeholders as we believe that capacity building is equally important. By investing in the education and training of our youth, we are preparing the next generation of food scientists and technologists, as well as entrepreneurs who will drive the food industry forward.

As we commemorate the 10th ReFoSTS/NIFST Day, I urge us to reflect once more on our collective achievements as well as the persisting challenges and renew our commitment to the cause of a sustainable food and nutrition security in the nation and beyond. Let us embrace the spirit of innovation, collaboration, and sustainability in all our endeavors. Together, we can create a future where every Nigerian has access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food thereby fostering a healthy and prosperous nation.

I extend my heartfelt appreciation to our partners, sponsors, and participants who have made this event possible. Let us continue to work together with determination, guided by the principles of excellence and integrity that define our Institute.

I look forward to meeting you again later this year at our 48th Annual National Conference scheduled to hold in Kano from 14th – 17th October, 2024.

Long live NIFST! Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!! May God bless us all!

 Professor Joseph Oneh Abu, FNIFST