By Chioma Obinna
The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, GAIN, has urged Nigerians to embrace home gardens as a major strategy in increasing the availability of healthy foods in the country as well as ensuring diversification of their diets aimed at ensuring improved nutrition.
To this end, GAIN has unveiled a campaign to improve the availability and consumption of safe and nutritious foods in Nigeria.
Speaking during the virtual media roundtable, the Country Director, Mr Michael Ojo, who noted that most cannot afford a healthy diet, said the alliance was targeting major improvements to food systems, resulting in diverse and healthier diets for vulnerable people.
Ojo said the major problem was that people do not understand the importance of a nutritious diet and they keep eating a particular food they like.
Stressing the need for media collaboration, he said journalists should help to properly educate the public on eating nutritious foods in the language the ordinary people would understand.
He said GAIN has realised that things are not moving as fast as everybody was hoping it would move regarding hunger and malnutrition.
He said: “We want to collaborate with the media to enlighten the public about improved nutrition and a balanced diet for good health. Food that is not safe is not food at all in the first instance because it harms consumers. It is also very important that the information is packaged in bites and sizes that are easy to pick up and digest.’
Speaking, Head, EatSafe Country Programmes- Food Safety GAIN, Dr Augustine Okoruwa stressed the need for Nigerians to diversified their diets regretted that people are used to one particular diet and they want to also eat them all the time. He said there are other local nutritious foods that are available, affordable and can be eaten. “There are several other indigenous foods and crops we should start promoting. There is a need for a home garden where you can grow your leafy vegetables and use them regularly. Another focus will be how to preserve these materials when they are in season and you don’t have to buy them when they become too expensive. We need to look at strategic approaches. We will also look at their diversification of diets.”
On her part, the Head of Policy and Advocacy at GAIN, Mrs Joyce Akpata noted that the capacity of the media would be built to be able to understand and then educate the public, especially in rural areas.
Akpata said that the belief that only children needed nutrition was not true as both adults and infants needed to have a healthy life. “We will need to involve the experts to build the capacity of the media for a better result.”
Launched at the UN in 2002 to tackle human sufferings caused by malnutrition, GAIN is working with governments, businesses and Civil Society Organisations to transform food systems, deliver nutritious foods for all people, especially the most vulnerable.