In the furtherance of efforts to curb the menace of protein deficiency in Nigeria, experts from different fields have proffered practical solutions to help Nigerians, starting with creating widespread awareness of the benefits of protein.
The professionals, from fields such as medicine to farming, nutrition and research, made these recommendations at the Protein Deficiency Awareness webinar themed ‘Nigeria Food Culture And The Challenge Of Protein Deficiency’.
Medical director, Pinecrest Specialist Hospital and public health expert, Dr. Omadeli Boyo, while delivering the keynote address at the webinar, noted that the socio-cultural dynamics of Nigeria affects meal choices across the country. Malnutrition, he revealed, is highly prevalent in Nigeria, despite the diversity in dietary options.
Boyo said: “Most Nigerian staple foods have a large percent of carbohydrates. Nigerians therefore need to deliberately plan to eat a balanced diet. This however is not something that can be changed overnight because food is life. It must be a gradual process.”
Dr. Boyo insisted that stakeholders at all levels must be involved, to understand that protein deficiency is real, and to encourage the search for cheaper sources of protein. He advised that it is essential to not overcook plant protein food sources, as proteins are denatured by excessive heat.
President, Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Ezekiel Ibrahim, said agriculture is the cornerstone to proper nutrition, hence, the reason why Nigeria must pay closer and more serious attention to it.
Citing some of the protein rich foods, Ibrahim said the importance of chickens and poultry in Nigeria cannot be overstated, as chickens are a great source of protein.
He however lamented the situation of insecurity across some northern states, which has hampered the production and subsequent availability of this essential protein source for the production of poultry feeds, leading to dire food insecurities.
Managing director, CMRG, a leading research firm, Lanre Fasakin, remarked that the Nigeria Protein Deficiency Awareness Report indicates that availability (food that is around us) and affordability (what we can afford) are the major drivers of what we eat in Nigeria.
He called for concerted efforts to create widespread awareness of the negative impact of protein deficiency and to promote the benefits of protein.