31 January 2024, Nigeria: For the past nine years, HarvestPlus and its partners have organized the Nutritious Food Fair (NFF) in Nigeria. This annual event serves as a commercial platform to promote the production, processing, marketing, and consumption of nutritious foods among Nigerians. The platform brings together stakeholders from both the public and private sectors with a shared agenda of addressing malnutrition and transforming the food system.
As a pioneer of biofortification, HarvestPlus drives the breeding of staple crops for higher micronutrients through conventional breeding and further promotes their use for income generation and consumption as part of a healthy diet. In so doing, HarvestPlus collaborates with stakeholders in health, agriculture, trade and investments, women affairs, standards and regulatory agencies, international and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as the private sector.
9th Nutritious Food Fair
The two-day event, held on December 9 and 10, 2023, in Kaduna, featured the theme ‘Transforming Food Systems for Improved Nutrition and Climate Resilience.’ It was the first of its kind in northern Nigeria, attracting more than 4,000 participants, including seed companies, food Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), input companies, agricultural equipment fabricators, farmers, women, government officials, development partners, and individuals from academia and catering institutes.
Yusuf Dollah, country manager of HarvestPlus Nigeria, highlighted the importance of the annual Nutritious Food Fair in driving good nutrition in Nigeria during his speech at the event. He said, “HarvestPlus utilizes conventional breeding methods to develop micronutrient-rich varieties of staple crops. This cost-effective approach complements other food-based strategies. Research evidence indicates that when people consume biofortified foods, they can improve their nutritional status.”
The fair included panel discussions, food exhibitions, training sessions, food demonstrations, quizzes, cooking competitions, and recognition of women’s roles, emphasizing the importance of healthy foods through unconventional methods.
State, federal, and political associates of biofortification expressed their support through panel discussions, speeches, and remarks, emphasizing the need to improve food systems to be more nutritious and climate smart. Senator Sahabi Abdullahi, Minister of state for Agriculture and Food Security, commended the event stating, “I am happy that Nutritious Food Fair of this calibre is taking place in Kaduna state. This is truly a beautiful way of creating awareness, and my ministry will continue to support such activities that promote nutrition.’’
Key Highlights of the Fair
The event was the vibrant display of various brands of food products. Over 200 food MSMEs, majority of whom are using biofortified crops as main ingredients, had the opportunity to showcase and sell their products while networking with service providers, raw material suppliers, and more. Seed companies like Premier Seeds, Gold Agric, and others also engaged in brokering new businesses and alliances at the NFF.
The NFF provided an opportunity to integrate new investors and initiate the uptake of new businesses by old players. Attendees received training on food processing, new recipes, food safety and hygiene, nutrient retention, packaging and marketing, as well as business development. The job creation clinic and deal rooms supported enabling business support for MSMEs.
On day two of NFF, HarvestPlus celebrated women who have influenced positive changes in food choices through the Smart Mother Initiative—a forum that skills women at state and community levels to become champions of biofortification. The Kaduna chapter was launched at the NFF 2023, under the patronage of Her Excellency, Hafsat Uba Sani, the wife of the Governor, who was recognized as the Kaduna State Biofortification Ambassador.
Undergraduates studying nutrition, catering, and hotel management took part in a NutriKitchen contest, gaining more information on biofortification and were happy with their prizes. Teenagers in secondary schools engaged in the NutriQuiz, enhancing their knowledge and competing for prizes. These initiatives are part of HarvestPlus’ efforts to promote the uptake and use of nutrient-enriched foods among children and youths.
Launch of HarvestPlus Solution
The event was also utilized to launch the HarvestPlus Solution (HPS), a purpose-driven global networked organization headquartered in Washington, DC. The primary objectives of HPS is to accelerate the scaling and commercialization of ground breaking innovations from HarvestPlus and CGIAR. Devoted to tackling the challenges of global food and nutrition security, HPS is dedicated to creating a meaningful impact on the well-being of communities worldwide, including the most vulnerable.
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