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    Thursday, June 29, 2023

    Nutritionists Charge Nigerians to Consume Protein-Rich Foods

    Nutrition experts have tasked Nigerians with the importance of adequate consumption of protein-rich foods to ensure productivity and sustainability for the future.

    The experts say  ensuring access to adequate and nutritious food for every individual is a fundamental human right.

    Speaking at the Right To Protein Nigeria Conference in Lagos, the experts said by focusing on protein sources that are sustainable, affordable, and accessible, society can make significant strides towards achieving nutrition security for all.

    The Right To Protein is initiated by the U.S. Soybean Export Council, USSEC, aimed at raising awareness about the importance of protein in the diet and the right of every individual to have access to sufficient, affordable, and high-quality protein for better nutrition, health, and well-being.

    The Regional Director, South Asia & Sub-Saharan Africa (SAASSA), USSEC, Kevin Roepke, sad the event’s focus on “Protein for a Sustainable Tomorrow and Nutrition Security” underscores the past 4 editions of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) reports’ humbling reality, just seven years away from 2030, with the distance to especially reach the Sustainability Development Goals 2 target of ‘Zero Hunger’ growing wider each year.

    The 2023 report further dispels any lingering doubts that the world is moving backwards in its efforts to end hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms.

    He said: “So, at this critical juncture, where do we stand now? And what can be done to help us build forward better and put us on track to achieving Zero Hunger?  When transformed with greater resilience to major drivers, including conflict, climate variability and other extremes like economic slowdowns and downturns, food systems can provide affordable healthy diets that are sustainable and inclusive, and become a powerful driving force towards ending hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms, for all.”

    Noting that proteins have been an essential part of human diets, Roepke said that due to the ever-rising population, the demand for protein is increasing exponentially.

    Speaking, a Fellow of the West African College of Physicians and Acting Head, the Department of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Osun, UNIOSUN, Dr. Olubukola urged Nigerians to take in at least 53.8g of protein daily as recommended by Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO.

    She said besides its numerous health benefits, protein consumption contributes significantly to economic development by promoting sustainable farming practices and supporting small-scale farmers can boost productivity, generate income, and thus contribute to improved lives and livelihood and poverty reduction.

    “Protein consumption can also promote food security by causing an increase in demand and diversifying protein sources beyond traditional options to reduce reliance on a few staple crops and so mitigate the risks of crop failure due to climate change or pests”, she said.

    Other ways promoting consumption can engender a sustainable tomorrow for Nigeria is by employing sustainable protein production methods to minimize the environmental impact associated with traditional farming practices, promoting agroecology, etc.

    The high point of the event was a panel discussion moderated by Dr Mrs Ifeoma Akeredolu, Centre Coordinator, Yabatech UNESCO-UNEVOC Centre and Lecturer, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Yaba College of Technology, Lagos.

    Other panellists were Kevin Roepke, Regional Director, South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa (SAASSA), USSEC; Prof. Wasiu Afolabi, President, Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN) and a Professor of Community Nutrition in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics and current Dean, College of Food Science and Human Ecology, the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, Ogun State; Dr Beatrice Oganah Ikujenyo, Associate Professor of Nutrition, Department of Home Economics, Lagos State University of Education, Oto-Ijanikin, Lagos and Dr Ayoola Oduntan, Group Managing Director, Amo Farm Sieberer Hatchery Ltd.

    The interactive discourse did a deep dive into accessible sources of plant & animal-based proteins, increasing protein consumption and its effect on health, productivity, and impact on ensuring a sustainable future for Nigeria and Africa at large and ultimately, ensuring that everyone has an actual right to protein.

    Attendees were taught how to interpret food labels and understand the nutritional contents of various food items, safe handling, and storage of foods. They were also taught how to incorporate proteins into everyday meals, especially using soybeans.

    The CEO of USSEC, Jim Sutter, explained that the #RightToProtein initiative aims to increase public understanding of protein’s importance and encourage governments, businesses, and other organisations to prioritize protein production, distribution, and consumption in their policies and practices.

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