Experts in the food and nutrition sector have decried the low productivity among Nigerians over malnutrition which has been described as a serious public issue.
According to UNICEF, Nigeria loses $1.5bn annually in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) due to diminished productivity and increased healthcare costs caused by malnutrition.
At a two-day advocacy workshop on improving food fortification compliance and promotion of workforce nutrition organised for the media and Civil Society Organisations (CSO), experts and stakeholders said food fortification could reverse the low productivity among Nigerians.
The workshop was organised by the Civil Society Legislative and Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in collaboration with the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and eHealth Africa.
A nutrition expert from the Department of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Dr Patricia Ukegbu, noted that a malnourished population would reduce productivity at the home and national levels.
She said, “Nigeria according to UNICEF loses an estimated $1.5bn in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually due to diminished productivity.
“But there are solutions, which can alleviate the burden on hardworking men, women and families.
“Fortifying staple foods with essential vitamins and minerals, for instance, is one of the most effective ways of improving a population’s nutrition.”
She decried the prevalence of malnutrition in Nigeria, saying the country ranked number one in Africa and two in the world in terms of number of children malnourished.
Ukegbu said that the malnutrition cycle must be broken at the family level as it was capable of transforming into a national emergency which reduced the productivity of the nation.