By CALEB AYANSINA
ABUJA — Marking the 100 years of nationhood in grand style, the federal government recently told the fascinating story of the rich culinary and cultural heritage of Nigeria that have evolved over the years.
Nigeria’s rich food culture and its people of over 350 ethnic groups present a kaleidoscope of alluring diversity with its tourism/hospitality benefits.
With the sole aim of making the country the most preferred tourists’ destination in Africa by 2020, the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR) is convinced that the rich Nigeria’s cuisine could contribute towards achieving the loft ideal.
To this end, NIHOTOUR organised a 3-day Food Exhibition/Colloquium at the International Conference Centre, in Abuja, to increase public awareness on the different derivatives that can be obtained from food crops available in Nigeria.
Speaking at the centenary food fiesta, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Edem Duke promised to employ Nigerian dishes as tool for cultural diplomacy and extension of influence globally.
He said food is an enterprise and “there is need for us to aggregate our efforts from all ways including hotels, strengthening food industry and generate wealth for ourselves.”
The Minister also tasked engineers and others in the creative industry to develop a more efficient way of processing and preserving Nigerian food so that their shelf life span can be preserved and exported to the global community.
“We want wwto grow this sector beyond the shores of this country by improving on the food sector for the ultimate benefits of Nigerians and generations yet unborn,” said Duke.
Speaking on the theme; ‘One Hundred Years of Food, Culture and Hospitality in Nigeria’, the Director General of NIHOTOUR, Dr Munzali Dantata said “the exhibition would provide a platform where government can be properly advised on best ways of promoting indigenous food as a tool for socio-economic development in line with the transformation agenda of Mr President.
“The exhibition will also be used to promote Nigeria’s rich cuisine in our hotels, restaurants, flights and encourage Nigerians to see it as a profitable venture for investment.”
Dantata maintained that it is imperative for public and private sectors to avail themselves with NIHOTOUR programmes in view of enormous importance of the manpower in the tourism industry.
“Manpower development is a vital ingredient to qualitative hospitality and tourism development and NIHOTOUR will continue to play a significant role in this direction,” he said.
The Board Chairman of NIHOTOUR, Kanayo O. Kanayo said the fiesta is to bring transformation in the food sector of Nigeria.