The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) has launched a policy brief on fisheries and aquaculture, to address malnutrition in the country.
Speaking at the launch of the document titled “Transformation and Future of Aquatic Food Systems in Nigeria” on Wednesday in Abuja, the Minister, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, said that it is in the interest of the nation for everyone to champion the success of implementing the policy.
“This is a significant gathering that has brought together all relevant stakeholders in the Nigerian fisheries sector with one objective of attaining the immense potential that aquatic foods can contribute to sustainable healthy diets and addressing the burden of malnutrition in Nigeria.
“Permit me to remind this gathering of experts that the aquatic environment as we are all aware, is of utmost importance to the survival of mankind and the ecosystem. Aside from providing us with food, it is also regulating our climate,” Abubakar said represented by the Director Special Projects in the ministry, Mrs Fausat Yusuf.
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The minister said that aquaculture as everyone is aware is the fastest growing sector to increasing fish production and that he has mandated the department to work towards increasing aquaculture production by an additional 250,000MT since he assumed office, to help create an additional 1.1 million jobs in the sector.
He said, “We are working towards this goal and I encourage everyone present at this launch to support this initiative. Let us also work together to protect the aquatic environment from the effects of pollution, overfishing, and climate change for the benefit of future generations.”
Also, Dr Micheal Ojo, Country Director GAIN, said the policy aims at highlighting the great potentials inherent in the fisheries and aquaculture sector, which had for so long been overlooked.
Ojo said that animal-sourced foods are really important to reduce the level of malnutrition which had continued to increase due to lack of access to diverse and micronutrient-dense food.
“Nigeria is plagued by a double burden of malnutrition as undernutrition exists alongside overweight, obesity, micronutrient deficiencies and associated diet-related non-communicable diseases.
“Nigeria loses $1.5 billion Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to micronutrient deficiencies and dietary inadequacies are one of the most pressing reasons for people experiencing multiple nutrient deficiencies and subsequent morbidity and mortality in Nigeria,” he said.
In her goodwill message, the Country Director, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Mrs Dede Ekuoe, noted that the aquatic food system plays vital roles in ensuring food security, improving nutrition and driving economic growth, especially in a nation like Nigeria.