By OBI PATRICK
A UNICEF nutrition specialist , Dr. Davis Omotola has rated the average nutritional status of Nigerian children as low. Omotola who made the assessment at a Protein Seminar entitled: “High Quality Proteins: The Missing Link in Development” organised by Alltech
Nutrients in collaboration with the United States (US) Department of Agriculture and US Protein Industry Groups in Lagos emphasised the importance of nutrition in the first two years of a child’s life which is the best time to curb protein deficiency so as to prevent stunting and wasting.
Omotola stated that a recent study rated children from the Northern part of the country as the worst hit by malnutrition. He added that the situation was unfortunate as most of the nutritional food produce come from that part of the country.
The UNICEF nutrition expert reiterated that the intake of nutritional food could reduce child mortality by more than 50 per cent if mothers would exclusively breast feed their babies between 0-5 months old and to compliment with nutritional food between 6-24 months old.
Consul General, United States Embassy, Lagos, said they were strengthening ties between the Nigeria Agricultural Industry and the United States Protein Industry Group with a view to exploring potential collaboration and ultimately continue to meeting the demands of local population for high quality protein.
Dean of the College of Food Sciences, Bell University, Ota, called for an urgent steps in addressing the low enrollment of students applying to study agriculture and nutritional based courses in the universities.
He said that the Agro-business potential in Nigeria is huge and would tremendously improve the country’s GDP, if it is well harnessed and that such inter-sectoral co-operation between the United States Department of Agriculture, United States Protein Industry and Nigeria Agricultural Industry is a welcome initiative.