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The Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST) has urged the Federal Government to strengthen food standards  and safety systems to reposition Nigerian foods for global acceptability.

Prof. Joseph Oneh Abu , NIFST President, made the remark on Thursday, 8th June, 2023 during the 9th Regional Food Science and Technology Summit (ReFoSTS) / NIFST Day Celebration in Lagos.

The theme of the event is “Repositioning Nigerian Foods for Global Market Accessibility”.

Prof. Abu, who was represented by Dr Bola Osinowo, NIFST 1st Vice-President, said that the key challenges facing Nigerian foods in the global market stems from issues of food safety. Abu said the challenges faced by the food sector included lack of awareness of the socio-economic importance of food safety, inability to enforce compliance with local, regional, international standards and global best practices.

He noted that other issues were inadequate infrastructure and resources to support scientific risk analysis and upgrading of food safety regulatory system. “We are also faced with inefficient food supply chain, standard method of produce inspection, grading food safety and poor traceability system customised to Nigerian conditions for both large and small scale growers. “There is an urgent need to strengthen the existing food standard and safety systems at the federal, state and local level to achieve a safe and reliable food supply chain within Nigeria and beyond,” Abu said.

He said that policies from the national to the global level needed to support the transition toward sustainable food and farming systems in a coherent and targeted manner.

Abu said that ensuring stakeholder coordination as well as creating a standard system for food safety inspection, origin tracking and nutrition labeling was necessary.

Nigeria spends huge amount of scarce foreign currency on importation of various food products compared to what it earns from export. “We need to promote locally processed foods globally, because this will not only boost the economy of the country but also increase the availability of healthy locally sourced foods in a sustainable manner,” Abu said. He noted that NIFST as a body would continue to contribute to the provision of skilled manpower which was essential for promotion of the production of pre-packaged, safe and globally competitive finished foods in Nigeria for exports.

Prof. Abu said NIFST would achieve this by constituting working groups to address respective technical gaps in packaging, warehousing and preservation methods for agricultural produce along the value chain.

Also, Mr. Stephen Olugbenga Aina, Chairman of NIFST Lagos Chapter, said that the need to encourage local industries and farmers on the key indicator of food accessibility which included crop production, market access and diet diversity could not be overemphasized.

He noted that the demand for Nigerian food globally was on the increase, adding that the food had to meet standard dietary needs for active and healthy life.

In her remarks, Mrs Kikelomo Amoreoluwa, Vice Chairman of NIFST Lagos Chapter, said the event was organised to discuss the bottlenecks hindering the exports of Nigerian foods globally. She said it was also aimed at encouraging food science and technology graduates to work in the sector, to gain certain experiences for them to be better food processors and grasp good agricultural practices.

Speaking on food safety and security, Mrs Veronica Idowu Alaba, Chairman, Local Organising Committee, NIFST, said it was necessary to follow standard procedures before exporting foods out of the country to avoid rejection. She said that farmers had a big role to play in ensuring food safety because they were the ones saddled with food production.

Alaba said it was essential for them to follow good agricultural practices by ensuring that they use the right fertilizers for planting crops. She also urged farmers to desist from using harmful chemicals to ripen fruits, noting that such could cause severe  health issues for consumers.

About The Author

Rasaq Oke

Rasaq Oke hold a Bachelor of Science (B. Sc.) Honours degree in Food Science & Technology from the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife. He is a seasoned Food Technologist and Agribusiness expert with wide and rich industry experience that cut across reputable organization like Guinness Plc, Crown Cork and Seal, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals (now Neimeth Pharmaceuticals), Livestock Feeds Plc. and Tantalizers Plc. He is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of FOODDOTCOMACADEMY SERVICES, Managing Consultant with RESPITALITY CARE COMPANY (RCC), and Publisher/ CEO of FOODPRENEURS PUBLISHING COMPANY, the publisher of FOODPRENEURNEWS, a print and online food magazine ( Mr. Oke is an accomplished food entrepreneur, consultant, administrator, instructor, and facilitator. He is a member of the Governing Council of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST) and the Head,-Editorial Board of the NIFST Food Forum Magazine; An Executive Member of the Nigeria Association of Agricultural Journalist (NAAJ). He is an Full Member and Secretary of the Membership, Certification and Education Committee of the Governing Council of the Nigerian Institute of Training and Development (NITAD). He a a Media and Communication Consultant to the Lagos State Fadama Coordination Office (SFCO) and the Lagos State Coconut Development Authority (LASCODA) in addition to being a Technical Partner to the Lagos State Consumer Protection Authority (LASCOPA). He is married with children and loves playing table tennis as well as travelling.

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